TUPELO – An allegation that the City Council violated the state’s Open Meetings Act last week was termed unfounded Monday by council President Fred Pitts.
Pitts said all seven council members had attended a public meeting of the Tupelo Major Thoroughfare Committee at 7 p.m., May 3 at City Hall. The media had been invited, though media representatives did not attend.
“If I’m holding a meeting behind closed doors and not inviting the press that’s one thing,” Pitts said during a special called meeting to address the issue. “But this wasn’t our meeting. We just attended another group’s meeting.”
The accusation had been made by Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan during a television interview last week with WTVA.
Bryan was unable to attend Monday’s meeting. He later told the Daily Journal he complained because his colleagues were entering into discussions with the MTP committee during the meeting. He felt that was a violation.
City attorney John Hill on Monday confirmed the council had done nothing wrong. The meeting had been properly announced to the public and media, and the council’s decision to attend wasn’t premeditated; members had been invited spontaneously after concluding their own meeting at City Hall the same day.
Hill said he had given the same statement to Bryan last week.
The state Open Meetings Act forbids a quorum of publicly elected officials to gather without first giving proper notice.
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Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal