Friday, June 25, 2010

Schmoozing, Walking Forums And Open Meetings

Yesterday we had a pop quiz on civics. The two questions dealt with compensation for public employees. Today's question deals with government transparency. It is prompted by Jim Schutze's report of a Dallas City Council meeting.

"Before the council bit into [a contentious issue], [Mayor Tom] Leppert called a 10-minute recess. This is where the real stuff happens. The microphones are off; they've stepped away from the dais; and all we can see out here in the peanut gallery is who's shmoozing whom."

The Texas Open Meetings Act forbids government bodies from deliberating public business in private serial meetings of less than a quorum (so-called "walking quorums") then ratifying their actions as a quorum in a subsequent public meeting. The question is, why is the schmoozing described by Schutze not an illegal "walking quorum?"

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