Sunshine Law Violated in Council Meeting

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The Ferguson City Council held a regular meeting Tuesday evening after the agenda was posted online on the city website less than one hour prior to the meeting. State law requires notice of at least 24 hours, exclusive of weekends or holidays, to give notice. In the case of meetings held online, as stated in RSMO section 610.020 “If a public body plans to meet by internet chat, internet message board, or other computer link, it shall post a notice of the meeting on its website in addition to its principal office and shall notify the public how to access that meeting.”

Instead, one agenda was posted at 6:02 PM 8/23/22 for a Special Meeting to be held at 7:00 PM and a second agenda was at 6:04 PM 8/23/22 for an Open Meeting to be held at the same time as the Special Meeting at 7:00 pm. The agendas both have an electronic signature from City Clerk Octavia Pittman dated as 8/19/22, but the city’s website clearly shows they were not posted online until within an hour of the meeting, a clear violation of state law.

Screenshot from the Ferguson City Website showing that Council Meeting Agendas were posted less than one hour before the meetings were held.

Typically, agendas are posted as Adobe PDF files and notification are sent by email and/or text to those who subscribe to notifications. Both late postings of the agendas are as document files and no notification of their posting was sent to subscribers, an indication that whoever posted the agendas was aware there was a problem with the legality of the meetings and did not want to bring attention to the fact that they had not been posted as law requires.

As there was no timely notice of the meeting, the Observer did not obtain a recording and there is no available summary of what was discussed in this meeting. City Manager Eric Osterberg has been requested to provide a comment on this situation.