OUR VIEW: Council should address concern, admit fault

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

When the Demopolis City Council met with District Attorney Greg Griggers in a private meeting on Feb. 2 it seems most likely to us that they violated the Alabama Open Meetings Act of 2005.

The essence of this law says that public boards must post a called meeting 24 hours prior to the meeting time. It says that any matters to be discussed in executive session must meet strict criteria and that executive sessions can be entered in to only after a public vote to do so. Any action taken in executive session must be reported to the public in the open session.

This law was designed to ensure the business of the people is carried out in the most public manner possible. Exceptions are granted for the most sensitive of information &045; such as a legal matter discussed in executive session &045; and for the most innocent of situations &045; such as meetings with corporate leaders over a possible new development.

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What happened on Feb. 2 was that a quorum &045; or voting majority &045; of the council met with the sole purpose of conducting business pertaining to the city. This meeting was never publicly posted, and &8220;official&8221; business was conducted in that the district attorney and four of the five councilmen have all admitted that they acted &8220;as a council&8221;

when they requested Griggers seek the indictments against Mayor Cecil Williamson.

We could understand the need to discuss such a sensitive legal matter in an executive session, but such an executive session should have been the result of a called meeting. Furthermore, if the council voted to take action &045; which legally the should have done if they were asking an outside legal intity to take action on their behalf &045; then that vote should have been held publicly.

We find irony in that the council may have broke state law in an effort to hold accountable a mayor they say broke state law. The right thing to do here is for the council to stand up and take responsibility.