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April 16, 2021

Request: Did the City of Grand Forks violate the open meetings laws when the Covid-19 Expert Panel created by the Mayor held four meetings without notice?

Conclusion: At the suggestion of a council member, the Mayor of Grand Forks invited several community health practitioners to form an “expert panel” regarding Covid-19 pandemic related topics such as testing protocols and mitigation efforts. The panel met four times via Zoom, provided input to several city employees, and drafted an interim “report” that was discussed at the August 24, 2020, meeting of the Grand Forks city council. Although the panel performed the functions of a working group, the panel was not a committee of the city council, had not been delegated authority by the city council or a committee of the whole, and the city council did not know when it was meeting. Therefore, the meetings of the expert panel were not meetings of a governing body subject to the open meetings law. The City of Grand Forks did not violate the open meetings law.

Opinion: 2021-O-02

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