There is very little understanding of what the Sunshine Law is among some members of the Lake Ozark Board


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THE ISSUE Lake Ozark mayor accused of violating state’s Sunshine Law by releasing information from closed session  


MY VIEW Missouri’s Open Meetings Act law does not address – much less forbid – releasing information from executive session

The ongoing antics in Lake Ozark hammer home one important point - there is very little understanding of what the Sunshine Law is among some members of the board.
For the last several weeks, Alderman Susan Drummond has promised to divulge proof that Mayor Johnny Franzeskos violated the Sunshine Law by relaying matter discussed in executive session to her.
Therein lies the problem.
The Sunshine Law says absolutely nothing about forbidding disclosing information from executive session. If your crony on the board told you it was illegal, you were told wrong and very likely used.
The Sunshine Law does say a public body MAY close information, but it is not required to do so and there are no penalties to any member who chooses to release information, says noted Sunshine Law expert and Missouri Press legal counsel Jean Maneke. 
In fact, some public bodies try to pass local ordinances that say you will be removed from office or otherwise penalized if you release information, and I think those rules constitute a violation of your freedom of speech (First Amendment) rights, she says.
The part about nondisclosure is not in the law and that's how we know it's not required, Maneke points out.
There's no mention in the law about members of bodies being required to keep confidential information confidential. If that was part of the law, it would say so, she says. The part of the Sunshine Law that deals with closed meetings – 610.020 – says the law is to be liberally interpreted and its exceptions interpreted narrowly.
 I hope that will settle Drummond’s  issue on releasing information.
Apparently not satisfied with where that accusation was going (or wasn’t going), or perhaps BECAUSE there was a packed house, Drummond turned up the proverbial heat, and in doing so, crossed over the line as a political opponent.
In addition to leveling more undocumented charges of misconduct and corruption, Drummond actually promised  she would bring proof of moral turpitude charges against the mayor.
The dictionary defines turpitude as “depravity; wickedness.”
That’s a very serious allegation. All three are. The mayor might be a lot of things, but I don’t think there’s proof that description fits him.
And if there is, rather than grandstanding to city residents, Drummond has a moral responsibility to be contacting the police or highway patrol, doesn’t she?
Lake Ozark hasn’t had a good blood-letting in a few years, and if residents think an impeachment might be good for the city, I nominate Alderman Drummond for wasting the city’s time by making unfounded charges based on promises to deliver evidence.
As the city attorney pointed out Tuesday night, that’s a backwards way of doing things. Lake Ozark needs to move past that behavior.
Lake Sun editor David Schiefelbein invites your comments on this issue, the Sunshine law or anything else. E-mail him at david.schiefelbein@lakesunonline.com

READ the Missouri Sunshine law

File a Sunshine law complaint