SYRACUSE — Syracuse Redevelopment Commission announced in a brief public meeting Wednesday, March 1, it had met with a forward thinking technology and design company regarding a real estate transaction for the Syracuse Technology and Industrial Park located north of town near SR 13 and US 6 during an executive session held earlier.
The executive session started at noon with the public meeting posted to start at 12:30 p.m.
The commission violated the Indiana Public Access Law by starting the public meeting at 1:30 p.m. rather than at 12:30 p.m. as was posted. Indiana Public Access Counselor Luke Britt said starting the public meeting an hour past the posted start time was “not reasonable.” He noted he has written motions for public meetings starting as little as 15 minutes late.
The Indiana Public Access Law states “notice has not been given in accordance with this section (IC 5-14-1.5-5.h) if a governing body of a public agency convenes a meeting at a time so unreasonably departing from the time stated in its public notice that the public is misled or substantially deprived of the opportunity to attend, observe and record the meeting.” Britt explained the public has a right to know when a public meeting will be held and an expectation the meeting will start at the posted time.
Britt said what the redevelopment commission should have done was recess the executive session at 12:30 p.m. to start the public meeting. During the public meeting, an announcement should have been made the executive session would reconvene at the close of the public meeting noting the date and time.
Britt stated the Syracuse Redevelopment Commission definitely violated the spirit of the public access law and in his view the letter of the law as well.
In addition to the redevelopment commission’s public meeting not starting on time, the executive session was not posted correctly, further violating the public access law.
When announcing an executive session will be held the Indiana Public Access Law states “Public notice of executive sessions must state the subject by specific reference to the enumerated instance or instances for which executive sessions may be held (IC 5-14-1.5-6.1 (D) ).”
Executive sessions may only be held, “For discussion of strategy with respect to any of the following: A) collective bargaining; B) Initiation of litigation or litigation that is either pending or has been threatened specifically in writing: C) The implementation of security systems; and D) The purchase or lease of real property by the governing body up to the time of a contract or option to purchase or lease is executed by the parties (IC 5-14-1.5-6.1 (B)(2) ).
The commission’s executive session notice did not state the reason or IC code for the purpose of the meeting when both are required.