Executive session is a serious action for city governments

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 23, 2006

After the Calera city council finished its agenda at Monday night&8217;s meeting, Mayor George Roy made a motion for the body to go into executive session. His reason to close the meeting to the public was so that the council could discuss purchasing property for the city.

Going into executive session is very serious, and when governments vote to do so, it is important to note. While Alabama state law does allow officials to close meetings to discuss certain criteria, the action should not be taken lightly.

There are few times when closing a meeting to the public is appropriate.

Certainly, security plans, information from an ongoing criminal investigation and the identity of undercover agents need to be protected. State law also guards discussion on an individual&8217;s &8220;general reputation and character,&8221; talks between a government and attorney or in Calera&8217;s case, negotiations on the amount for which a government is willing to pay, sell or lease property.

With this said, executive sessions should come few and far between. Governments have a charge to operate in the open, where the public can see what kind of job their elected representatives are doing.

It is also important for governments to remember, while they might be able to go into executive session, that doesn&8217;t mean they have to do so. It is in the best interest of government to remain transparent, to &8220;let the light shine.&8221;