The Noble Guardian of the Open Meetings Act

Editor's note: According to the actual law (see below), neither the Hospital District Commissioners nor the Fire Commissioners did anything wrong. You'd think a newspaper publisher who has made it his life's work to allege Open Meetings Act violations would know more about it.

From the Revised Code of Washington (the law) RCW 42.30.070: Times and places for meetings—Emergencies—Exception. ... It shall not be a violation of the requirements of this chapter for a majority of the members of a governing body to travel together or gather for purposes other than a regular meeting or a special meeting as these terms are used in this chapter: PROVIDED, That they take no action as defined in this chapter.

From an Opinion of the Washington State Attorney General, referencing a letter from a public offical asking if it would be a violation of the Open Meetings Act if two county council members attended a third-party meeting:

"The presence of a quorum of the members of a city or county council at a meeting not called by the council does not, in itself, make the meeting a 'public meeting' for purposes of the Open Public Meetings Act (RCW 42.30); the Open Public Meetings Act would apply if the council members took any 'action' (as defined in RCW 42.30) at the meeting, such as voting, deliberating together, or using the meeting as a source of public testimony for council action.

..."Your question asks whether the presence of a quorum of the governing body at a third party’s meeting by itself violates the Act, and we conclude that it does not."

Also, note that no one gives up their First Amendment rights just because they become a public official.

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