Our view: Executive sessions
by Daily Mountain Eagle
Aug 12, 2012 | 872 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Just because you CAN go into an executive session, doesn’t mean you have to.

Despite having their attorney’s permission to hold a closed-door meeting, the Jasper City Council recently chose to discuss in public an issue concerning Donnie Naramore’s candidacy as a mayor.

For most of July, city leaders debated whether Naramore’s residence listed on his application is indeed within the city limits.

During a special called meeting last week, the council was set to consider a vote that would settle the dispute. The agreement would not only leave Naramore on the ballot but end a controversy that included a federal lawsuit filed by the candidate’s lawyer.

Since the matter concerned pending litigation, it qualified for an executive session under Alabama law. However, Council Member Morris Studdard suggested the council discuss it publicly, and the other members present, Sandi Sudduth and Lee Swann, agreed.

Had they not, it would have shut the public out to the reasoning behind a decision that would affect the ballot of Jasper’s mayoral election.

In all fairness, the council members probably knew that if they had met in executive session, they would get some complaints from thier constituents. But whatever the reason, they discussed the matter out in the open when they didn’t have to, and they should be commended for it.

This isn’t to say that the Daily Mountain Eagle agrees or disagrees with the decision the council made. This is also not an endorsement of any candidate. But whoever wins in the municipal the election — and any other for that matter — we hope they follow the example set by the Jasper Council.

Every day countless governing bodies must make the decision whether to discuss matters in executive session. Sometimes the choice to close the doors is warranted. The reasoning behind the decisions, however, should always be the interests of the public and not what is easiest for the elected official.

- Daily Mountain Eagle