[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Ithaca 9-4-1985 by Ord. No. 85-11 (Ch. 2, Art. II, of the 1975 Municipal Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
Common Council meetings — See § C-30.
It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this city be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy. The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the commonweal will prosper and enable the government process to operate for the benefit of those who created it.
This chapter is to be given a broad and liberal construction so as to achieve this purpose. Notwithstanding any state law to the contrary, this chapter is to be applied to any gathering or meeting of a public body, whether formal or informal, for the purpose of discussing or transacting public business.
This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Open Meetings Law."
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- EXECUTIVE SESSION
- That portion of a meeting not open to the general public.[Amended 8-5-1992 by L.L. No. 3-1992]
- The official convening of a public body for the purpose of conducting public business.
- PUBLIC BODY
- Any entity for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which consists of two or more members performing a governmental function for a public corporation, as defined in § 66 of the New York State General Construction Law, or a committee or subcommittee or other similar body of such public body.
Every meeting of a public body shall be open to the general public, except that an executive session of such body may be called and business transacted thereat in accordance with § 95 of the New York State Public Officers Law.
Public bodies shall make or cause to be made all reasonable efforts to ensure that meetings are held in facilities that permit barrier-free physical access to the physically handicapped, as defined in § 50, Subdivision 5, of the New York State Public Buildings Law.
Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled shall be given at least one week prior thereto to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least 72 hours before such meeting.
Public notice of the time and place of every other meeting shall be given, to the extent practicable, to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at a reasonable time prior thereto.
The public notice provided for by this section shall not be construed to require publication as a legal notice.
Upon a majority vote of its total membership, taken in an open meeting pursuant to a motion identifying the general area or areas of the subject or subjects to be considered, a public body may conduct an executive session for the below enumerated purposes only; provided, however, that no action by formal vote shall be taken to appropriate public moneys:
Matters which will imperil the public safety if disclosed.
Any matter which may disclose the identity of a law enforcement agent or informer.
Information relating to current or future investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense which would imperil effective law enforcement if disclosed.
Discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation.
Collective negotiations pursuant to Article 14 of the Civil Service Law.
The medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation.
The preparation, grading or administration of examinations.
The proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities or the sale or exchange of securities held by such public body, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof.
Attendance at an executive session shall be permitted to any member of the public body and any other persons authorized by the public body.
Minutes shall be taken at all open meetings of a public body, which shall consist of a record or summary of all motions, proposals, resolutions and any other matter formally voted upon and the vote thereon.
Minutes shall be taken at executive sessions of any action that is taken by formal vote, which shall consist of a record or summary of the final determination of such action and the date and vote thereon; provided, however, that such summary need not include any matter which is not required to be made public by the Freedom of Information Law.
Editor's Note: See Article 6 of the Public Officers Law.
Minutes of meetings of all public bodies shall be available to the public in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law within two weeks from the date of such meeting, except that minutes taken pursuant to Subsection B hereof shall be available to the public within one week from the date of the executive session.
Any aggrieved person shall have standing to enforce the provisions of this chapter against a public body by the commencement of a proceeding pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules and/or an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.
In any such action or proceeding, the court shall have the power, in its discretion and upon good cause shown, to declare any action or part thereof taken in violation of this chapter void in whole or in part.
An unintentional failure to fully comply with the notice provisions required by this chapter shall not alone be grounds for invalidating any action taken at a meeting of a public body. The provisions of this chapter shall not affect the validity of the authorization, acquisition, execution or disposition of a bond issue or notes.
In any proceeding brought pursuant to this section, costs and reasonable attorney's fees may be awarded by the court, in its discretion, to the successful party.
The statute of limitations in an Article 78 proceeding with respect to an action taken at an executive session shall commence to run from the date the minutes of such executive session have been made available to the public.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed as extending the provisions hereof to:
Judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings, except proceedings of Zoning Boards of Appeals.
Deliberations of political committees, conferences and caucuses. Notwithstanding any state law to the contrary, this exemption is to be narrowly, not expansively, construed; it shall apply solely to those meetings at which only political and not public business is discussed.
Any matter made confidential by federal or state law.