Closed Meetings In Columbus Broke Open Meetings Act

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A judge says the city of Columbus can’t hold split meetings of its city council to avoid open meetings requirements.

Lowndes County Chancery Judge Kenneth Burns, in a Tuesday ruling, found that city meetings involving three council members and the mayor in 2014 violate Mississippi’s Open Meetings Act.

Burns says the city is trying to dodge prior court decisions that say debate on a policy should take place in public.

The judge upheld a prior ruling of the Mississippi Ethics Commission. The city, backed by the Mississippi Municipal League, had appealed the ruling to Burns.

Columbus has a six-member council, requiring four members to be present for business. Nathan Gregory, then a reporter for The Commercial Dispatch, complained to the Ethics Commission in 2014 after a series of closed meetings.

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