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AG opinion clarifies Laredo TOMA concern

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has issued a new AG opinion saying a private consultation between a member of a governmental body and an employee of that same unit of government, while a meeting of the body is taking place, does not constitute a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

The issue was raised by the City of Laredo which wanted to know if a city council member could leave the council dais to confer with city staff while a council meeting was taking place.

“It is unthinkable that a city councilman’s ability to individually investigate public matters and individually confer with the city’s employees is somehow lost simply because there happens to be a public meeting going on,” said Isidro Alaniz, the local district attorney who requested the opinion.

In GA-0989, Abbott said section 551.001(4)(A) of the TOMA was clear on the issue – a deliberation involving a member of a governing body and a third person does not constitute a “meeting” unless there is a verbal exchange between a quorum of the governmental body and a third person.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call 512-322-9944.

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