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Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 1 March 29, 2011 Part 1 Nevada Open Meeting Law for Board/Commission Members Nathan Edwards Deputy.

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Presentation on theme: "Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 1 March 29, 2011 Part 1 Nevada Open Meeting Law for Board/Commission Members Nathan Edwards Deputy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 1 March 29, 2011 Part 1 Nevada Open Meeting Law for Board/Commission Members Nathan Edwards Deputy District Attorney Washoe County District Attorneys Office

2 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 2 March 29, 2011 Open Meeting Law Is it worth it? Must local governments give public notice before deciding a matter? Must every meeting be agendized?

3 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 3 March 29, 2011 Sunshine Law The Peoples Business, conducted by public bodies, shall be open to the public. Thus, the Open Meeting Law applies to all meetings of a public body at which deliberation takes place and/or action is taken…. NRS , et. seq.

4 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 4 March 29, 2011 What is a Public Body? Any administrative, advisory, executive or legislative body of the State or a local government which expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue or which advises or makes recommendations to any entity that expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue CABs and some other boards and commissions have advisory power Other boards and commissions have decision-making authority Legislature and Judiciary exempted

5 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 5 March 29, 2011 What is a Meeting? Gathering of members of a public body in which a quorum is present to deliberate toward a decision or to take action on any matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

6 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 6 March 29, 2011 Meeting (continued) A series of gatherings of members of a public body at which: –Less than a quorum is present at any individual gathering; –The members attending the individual gatherings collectively constitute a quorum; and –The series of gatherings was held with the specific intent to avoid the provisions of the law.

7 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 7 March 29, 2011 Exceptions Social Functions –If members do not deliberate toward a decision, or – take action on any matter over which the public body to which they belong has control, supervision, jurisdiction or advisory power Attorney-Client Communication –To receive information from the public bodys attorney, and –to deliberate on potential or existing litigation on a matter over which the body has control, supervision, jurisdiction or advisory power

8 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 8 March 29, 2011 What Constitutes a Quorum? A simple majority of the constituent membership of a public body unless another proportion is established by law –Elected body requires majority of full membership for affirmative action –Appointed body requires majority of quorum for any action

9 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 9 March 29, 2011 What Constitutes an Action? A decision made by a majority of members present during a meeting of a public body A commitment or promise made by a majority of members of a public body during a meeting

10 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 10 March 29, 2011 Action (continued) Serial Decision-making Constitutes a Violation –Requires a majority of the members –Applies to Communications in Writing, i.e., Letters and s –Includes Discussions by and among Members about a Matter to be Heard

11 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 11 March 29, 2011 What Constitutes Notice? Written notice, to include: –Time, place and location of meeting –List of locations where notice has been posted –An agenda, to include: Clear and complete statement of topics scheduled to be considered during meeting Indication of those items on which action may be taken A public comment period

12 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 12 March 29, 2011 Notice (continued) Notice to be posted at principal office of public body or building at which meeting is to be held Not less than three additional separate and prominent places within jurisdiction Not later than 9 a.m. of third working day prior to meeting

13 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 13 March 29, 2011 Notice (Continued) Delivered to the postal service used by the public body not later than 9 a.m. of the third working day prior to the meeting If agreed by requestor, delivered by not later than 9 a.m. of the third working day prior to the meeting Supplemental posting on website, if available

14 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 14 March 29, 2011 Other Requirements Public body must make available, upon request, and at no charge: –A copy of the agenda –A copy of any proposed ordinance or regulation to be discussed at meeting –Any other supporting material provided to public body May provide by electronic mail

15 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 15 March 29, 2011 Exceptions Confidential documents Materials not yet provided to members Caveat: Unless confidential by law or subject to an attorney- client privilege, materials must be available to public at time provided to members

16 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 16 March 29, 2011 Emergency Items Emergency means – as stated on the record –An unforeseen circumstance which requires immediate action and includes, but is not limited to, Disasters Impairment of health or safety Loss of money or grant opportunity

17 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 17 March 29, 2011 Other Issues Time of Meeting and Time Certains Cancellations No Quorum Accommodations for Disabled Closed Meetings Special notice when taking property or administrative action against a person

18 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 18 March 29, 2011 Public Comment Must be on agenda, but placement up to public body Not limited to only one public comment period May not circumscribe content of speech on public comment except: –Comments may be required to be directed to board as a whole – no personal attacks –Comments may be limited to matters not on the agenda as long as comment will be allowed at time of agenda item

19 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 19 March 29, 2011 Disruptive Behavior Public body may adopt rules governing public comment and input on agenda items Rules may not be based upon content of a persons speech/comment Warning appropriate Removal not a violation

20 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 20 March 29, 2011 Minutes and Public Access Minutes must include, at minimum: –Date, time and place of meeting –Members present and those absent –Substance of matters discussed or decided and record of any vote –Substance of comments of member of general public, if requested, and copy of written materials, if any. –Any other matter if requested by member of public body

21 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 21 March 29, 2011 Minutes (continued) To be available for inspection within 30 days of meeting (even if in draft form) Maintained for 5 years; to be archived Available to subject of closed session upon request or if confidentiality waived

22 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 22 March 29, 2011 Recorded and/or Audiotaped The meeting may be recorded or audio-taped by third party - as long as not disruptive of meeting Tape must be retained for at least 1 year Tape must be made available to public – at any time following meeting

23 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 23 March 29, 2011 What Happens if Law Violated? Attorney General may bring action to: –Have action declared void (60 days) –Obtain injunctive relief to require compliance with law (120 days) –Bring a criminal action (6 months) Civil action may be maintained by other than Attorney General

24 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 24 March 29, 2011 Violation (continued) Misdemeanor –Member attending a meeting where action is taken in violation of law (with knowledge of violation) –Wrongful exclusion of person from meeting

25 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 25 March 29, 2011 Other Meeting Matters Correction of Minutes Preparation of Agenda

26 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 26 March 29, 2011 Part 2 Nevada Ethics in Government Nathan Edwards Deputy District Attorney Washoe County District Attorneys Office

27 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 27 March 29, 2011 NRS Chapter 281A What is the ethics code? Where is it found? To whom does it apply? What does it require?

28 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 28 March 29, 2011 What is the ethics code? Series of rules governing the conduct of certain public officers and employees

29 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 29 March 29, 2011 Where is the ethics code found? NRS Chapter 281A

30 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 30 March 29, 2011 To whom does it apply? Public employees, 281A.150: any person who performs public duties under the direction and control of a public officer for compensation paid by the state or any county, city or other political subdivision Public officers, 281A.160: person elected or appointed to a position which: –Is established by law (constitution, statute, ordinance, charter) –Involves the exercise of public power, trust, or duty

31 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 31 March 29, 2011 Excluded! Justices, judges or other officers of the court system Members of advisory boards, commissions, or other bodies Members of special districts whose duties do not include formulation of a budget or authorization of expenditure of funds County health officers appointed

32 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 32 March 29, 2011 What does the code of ethics require? Code of ethical standards 281A

33 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 33 March 29, A.400 No gifts that would tend to influence improperly No use of position to get unwarranted privileges No negotiation by employee or officer of contract between government agency and employees or officers business No payment from private source for performance of duties No use of confidential information obtained thru position to benefit personal interests No suppression of government info that would tend to be unfavorable to employee No attempts to benefit personal interests thru use of subordinate

34 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 34 March 29, A.400 (continued) No seeking of employment or contracts thru use of government job With exception of certain rules for legislators, no use of government time, property, equipment for personal/ financial interest –Exception for appropriate de minimis use pursuant to policy with nominal cost (reimbursement required) –Exception for use of mailing lists, computer data, other info available to the public –Exception for use of phone or other means of communication if no special charge for use

35 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 35 March 29, A.410 Limits ability to counsel or represent persons before agency that employs officer/employee

36 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 36 March 29, A.420 Conflicts of Interest! Very important section for public bodies If at the time a matter is called a member has a conflict of interest, it must be disclosed Conflicts include commitments in private capacity to interests of others in the matter, pecuniary interest in the matter, receipt of gift or loan in connection with a matter Although not written, best to err on the side of caution and make disclosures Once disclosure is made, next question is whether recusal is necessary

37 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 37 March 29, A.420 Conflicts of Interest! (continued) Recusal generally disfavored because of importance of public officials carrying out their duties Recusal nonetheless necessary only in clear cases where the independence of judgment of a reasonable person in the public officers situation would be materially affected by the conflict (NRS 281A.420(4)) With certain exceptions, effect of recusal is reduction of necessary quorum and number of votes to carry an item

38 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 38 March 29, A.430 Rules restricting and, in most cases prohibiting, government folks from entering contracts in their private capacities with the government agency or entity that employees them

39 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 39 March 29, 2011 Other Provisions 281A.500 requires public officers to file form with ethics commission acknowledging review of ethical standards 281A.510 prohibits employees from accepting honorariums, meaning payment of money or value to government folks for appearance or speech in official capacity over and above what theyre already paid to do the job Other provisions. Sigh! There are even more provisions, but weve covered the basics. If in doubt, best to seek legal advice before acting or participating in a transaction!

40 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 40 March 29, 2011 Final Comments Drowning under the open meeting law? Questions about ethics laws? Let your staff or counsel be your oars: knowledge, experience, advice.

41 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 41 March 29, 2011 Who to Contact Your board/commissions legal counsel Bob Webb – ; Sheri Ingley – ; Nathan Edwards – ;

42 Citizen Advisory Boards Open Meeting Law Training slide 42 March 29, 2011 Questions??? and Certificates


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