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Thread: Socializing after Commission Meetings

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus pcjournal's avatar
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    Socializing after Commission Meetings

    Does your planning commission socialize after your meetings? Is it a good idea? Is the public invited? And, most importantly, what's your favorite after meeting drink?

    I ask this because:

    1. I ran across an agenda from the Wayzata, Minnesota, Planning Commission that invited everyone to the Wayzata Bar & Grill after the planning commission meeting.

    2. I try to encourage the practice here in Burlington, Vermont (I'm on our planning commission) as I find it helps create more of a sense of cohesion (plus I like a Magic Hat #9 beer after meeting for a couple of hours!). However, we don't make note of this in our Agendas.
    Wayne Senville, Editor
    PlannersWeb.com / Planning Commissioners Journal
    P.O. Box 4295, Burlington, VT 05406

    Website: www.plannersweb.com/
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    email: pcjoffice@gmail.com


  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Due to California Law (Brown Act), commissioners that attend function cannot meet together if there is a quorum of the commission at said function (so 5 commissioners, cannot have more than 2 in attendance). This law was passed eons ago to prevent backroom deals, etc.

    Even on field trips we that staff sponsors for educational purposes, a meeting needs to be noticed, agenda, and open to the public. If the function was on the agenda, this may be a little different, but because of the Brown Act, this is rarely done here.

    A neighboring municipality's planning commissioners and city council were recently informed by the County's Grand Jury that even emails amongst fellow council/commissioners that involved a quorum of members was in violation of state law. This Grand Jury recommended recall/removal of said violators. That says enough on how much the Brown Act violations mean in this state.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  3. #3
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    The Wayzata example seems like they are making an official announcement of the gathering and therefor are not in violation of the Brown Act. We have that rule in place here too but sometimes Commissioners forget the email rule so I always remind them... send email to me and I will send it out... as communication from staff is not in violation of the act.

    How does the Brown Act accommodate events like a HS football game where all Board members might show up but it's clearly not official?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    yes, we have what is often referred to as an Open Meeting Law to cover quorums and posting meetings and decisions made in a public forum, but as long as nothing is discussed, like projects pending before the board, or projects acted upon and during the appeal period, it's okay if they meet up on purpose of by accident for a social engagement.

    in an unnamed town I worked for a way back, the Board always went out after the meeting, and they would have me come along and sometimes, yes, I'd have to referee when they started talking about an application but otherwise, it was just general "how are the kids" and "how 'bout them Red Sox" kind of things - I think it helped to gel people that otherwise would not convene for any purpose other than being on a board together

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Due to California Law (Brown Act), commissioners that attend function cannot meet together if there is a quorum of the commission at said function (so 5 commissioners, cannot have more than 2 in attendance). This law was passed eons ago to prevent backroom deals, etc.
    Even on field trips we that staff sponsors for educational purposes, a meeting needs to be noticed, agenda, and open to the public. If the function was on the agenda, this may be a little different, but because of the Brown Act, this is rarely done here.
    A neighboring municipality's planning commissioners and city council were recently informed by the County's Grand Jury that even emails amongst fellow council/commissioners that involved a quorum of members was in violation of state law. This Grand Jury recommended recall/removal of said violators. That says enough on how much the Brown Act violations mean in this state.
    This sounds very similar to the rules here in Texas. We have this issue also with emails before/after meetings - and even go into how emails sent around can be construed as backroom politics. There's a bunch of rules in place, and I just know to be careful.
    When it comes to things like ball games, city events, etc., the members can all come, but they can't sit together, can't converse, and such.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    I don't notice our Planning Commissioners heading out as a group, but occasionally one will join staff at the one and only establishment in downtown. I did see three out of five Board of Adjustment members attend said establishment after a meeting once, but 2 of them sat by themselves while the other one sat with staff.
    Back home just in time for hockey season!

  7. #7
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Our Board goes to lunch together following each public hearing--twice a month. Florida has the Sunshine Law that requires all gov't decisions to be held in the "bright light of the day." I think their lunches make our county attorney's head to spin.

    Do I need to say anymore?
    I think that one of the great signs of security is the ability to just walk away.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    We have the typical open meeting law, so no after hours. But then our commissioners don't really seem to like each other.

    The more important thing is getting the drink afterwards. I usually go for a Fat Tire.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

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