To hire lobbyist G. S. Proctor, the Cecil County Board of Commissioners closed its public meeting and went into an executive session on Feb. 16. After discussing the matter with the firm’s representatives behind closed doors, the Commissioners agreed to enter into a contract to have the Prince Georges County based firm oppose two bills in Annapolis.
According to the county statement about the closed meeting, the board moved into a closed session for the following reasons:
- Personnel matter
- Consult with counsel to obtain legal advice; and
- “Before a contract is awarded or bids are opened, discuss a matter directly related to a negotiating strategy or the contents of a bid or proposal, if public discussion or disclosure would adversely impact the ability of the public board to participate in the competitive bidding or proposed process
We’re still working on this fast moving story, but want to get this part of it out. We’ll have an editorial opinion on it shortly since the Maryland Public Open Meetings Act provides standards and guidelines for closing meetings. One reason you may close a meeting is if you’re in a competitive bid or quote process, where “public disclosure would adversely impact the ability of the public body to participate in the competitive bidding or proposal process.” This doesn’t seem to have been a competitive bid, but we’ll get more information
This also reminded us of a piece we wrote months ago about closed meetings not going unnoticed in Kent County. That weekly newspaper always makes a point to cover closed meetings and periodically writes editorials about the need to maintain as much transparency as possible. The Kent County News also files complaints when it feels the doors are being closed on public business, which is helpful for those covering local government news. If it weren’t for the CCYR and the political-circle talkers, we would never have known about this closed meeting.
We’re also sure the CCYR will have lots more news on this., from its vantage point.