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July 19, 2018

Request: Did the Lincoln City Council violate the open meetings law by taking final action during executive sessions.

Conclusion: The Lincoln City Council held special meetings in March and April 2018. At each meeting, the city council held executive sessions for attorney consultation, to discuss developments in two cases against the city. During the March, 2018, executive session, the city council passed a motion to file an appeal for one case and authorized its negotiator to negotiate within an approved settlement amount on the other case. The city did not make any statement, pass a motion, or publicly vote after reconvening in the open session. The motion to appeal was “final action” of the city council that should have been taken during the open portion of the meeting, however, the guidance given to negotiators for settlement negotiations was not considered final action and was properly made during an executive session. During the April, 2018, special meeting, the council held an executive session during which it gave additional guidance to negotiators on settlement of one of the cases. The city then made several motions regarding the other case, including to withdraw from the appeal and to issue a public statement. The motions were final actions that should have been taken during the open portion of the meeting. The city must update its minutes for both meetings to include who made and seconded the motions, and the results of the recorded roll call votes.

Opinion: 2018-O-14

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