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State: Chevy Chase Town Council Broke Open Meetings Law

The Chevy Chase Town Council didn't follow state law properly before holding a closed meeting to discuss hiring an attorney, a state board has ruled.

The Chevy Chase Town Council didn't follow state law to discuss issues in closed session, a state board has ruled. File|Patch
The Chevy Chase Town Council didn't follow state law to discuss issues in closed session, a state board has ruled. File|Patch

A closed meeting held by the Town of Chevy Chase’s council to interview a law firm to represent the town in the Purple Line rail system dealings violated state law.

A recent opinion by the state Open Meetings Compliance Board says the Town Council did not follow the correct procedures for meeting in closed session on Nov. 26, 2013, meeting, reports Gazette.Net.

The Open Meetings Act requires government bodies to make most of their meetings open to the public, with exceptions for personnel issues, pending litigation and collective bargaining negotiations.

Before government bodies can meet in closed session, they must meet in open session to vote on whether to go into closed session and provide some information about what they will discuss, the website says. They must also provide information about the closed session in the minutes of the next open session, according to the state board’s ruling.

The council discussed topics at its Nov. 26 meeting that care allowed in closed session, the board said, but it did not hold an open meeting before the closed meeting or vote to go into closed session. It also did not include the required information about the closed session in the minutes of the next open meeting, the ruling said.

Ronit A. Dancis, a vice president of the pro-Purple Line Action Committee for Transit, filed the complaint. The group has criticized the Town of Chevy Chase’s hiring of the law firm and called for another public hearing on the matter.

The Action Committee for Transit released a copy of the board’s opinion Monday to Gazette.Net.

The next Town Council meeting is set for April 9.

 

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