November 20, 1998
Ms. Danielle Cordier
Catskill Watershed Corporation
P.O. Box 569
Margaretville, NY 12455
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions.
The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your
Dear Ms. Cordier:
I have received your correspondence in which you sought guidance concerning the ability of the Board of Directors of the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) to conduct an executive session to review "a particular individual's financial and credit history."
By way of background, the CWC administers an economic development fund and is
required to review loan applications to determine whether, based on financial information, risk and benefits, to grant loans to applicants. From my perspective, it is clear that the CWC Board would have the authority to conduct executive sessions in relation to the subject matter under consideration.
In brief, the Open Meetings Law is based on a presumption of openness. Stated differently, meetings of public bodies must be conducted open to the public, except to the extent that an executive session may properly be held in accordance with paragraphs (a) through (h) of §105(1) of the statute.
Pertinent to the matter is §105(1)(f), which permits a public body to enter into executive session to discuss:
"the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a
particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the
appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline,
suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation..."
Based on the language quoted above, discussions by the CWC Board of the "financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation" could, in my view, validly be conducted in executive session [see LaCorte Electrical Construction and Maintenance Inc. v. County of Rensselaer, 576 NYS 2d 397 (1991)].
I hope that I have been of assistance. Should any further questions arise, please feel free to contact me.
Robert J. Freeman