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Louisiana City Attorney Robert Rapp accepted two suggestions from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for the city to adhere to the state Sunshine Law at the Monday, Feb. 11 city council meeting, but rejected two others in a letter back to the state office.
Rapps’s response was to a Jan. 18 letter from the Attorney General’s office that said the city should have shut down the Sept. 10, 2012 closed session taped by former council member Robbyn Morris that led to her November impeachment.
Rapp agreed in a response letter to chief counsel of the Attorney General’s Governmental Affairs Division Patricia Churchill to have the council attend Sunshine Law open meetings and records classes and to send all meeting notices and minutes to the Attorney General’s office for the next six months.
Rapp’s response also asked the Attorney General to withdraw a request for the city to clarify that the AG’s office did not recommend the city file suit for filing Sunshine Law complaints against it and to agree that “under the present circumstances any such suit by the city would border on frivolous.”
Rapp said he did that in a Dec. 14 letter to the editor of the Louisiana Press-Journal, in which he said the AG’s office had never suggested he sue anyone for complaining about Sunshine Law violations.
The letter followed communts he made at the Dec. 10 meeting, when he said the council should consider going “on the attack” and file suit against Sunshine Law complainants.
Rapp also said he did not want to clarify for citizens that “any such lawsuit” would be frivolous.
Rapp said most Sunshine Law complaints are made in good faith but that the Sunshine Law provides no immunity from liability for complaints that are unfounded and made in bad faith.
So far, no suits have been filed over Morris’ impeachment or Sunshine Law complaints, but Morris has said she might sue a long list of defendants.
Morris said the recent letter from the AG’s office which said the Sept. 10 closed session should have been in open session vindicated her.
Morris said she taped that meeting to protect herself and to prove it was called to discuss City Administrator Bob Jenne’s problems with her and not to discuss Morris herself.
The Sunshine Law contends that closed meetings are justified to discuss city employee hiring, firing or discipline, but not conduct of city officials.
Although city officials said in depositions before the impeachment they thought the meeting was about Jenne, the AG’s office concluded it was about Morris, and should have been open to the public.