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OML-AO-O5206

From: dos.sm.Coog.InetCoog
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 4:54 PM
To:
Subject: RE: OML Question

Dear:

First, a civic organization is not a governmental entity and, therefore, is not subject to the Open
Meetings Law.

Second, if meetings of the civic organization are permitted to be held on school grounds, as you
suggested, those must meetings must be "non-exclusive" and open to the public pursuant to ยง414 of
the Education Law. With respect to your specific questions, I believe that the governing body of the
organization has the ability to adopt rules to govern its own proceedings, so long as any such rules are
not inconsistent with the not-for-profit corporation law. Even when the Open Meetings Law clearly
applies, those who attend do not have a right to speak or disrupt a meeting. Rather, it has consistently
been advised that a public body may adopt reasonable rules relating to the privilege of speaking,
decorum, conduct, etc. While the Open Meetings Law now includes provisions concerning the right of
the public to record or broadcast open meetings of public bodies, so long as so doing is neither
disruptive nor obtrusive, I do not believe that an equivalent right exists with respect to meetings of
civic organizations. In short, it is my belief that a court would likely determine that the governing body
of the organization has the authority to permit or prohibit the recording of its meetings by members of
the public in accordance with its rules or by-laws.

I hope that I have been of assistance.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
Phone: (518)474-2518
Fax: (518)474-1927
Website: www.dos.state.ny.us/coog/index/html