From: Jobin-Davis, Camille (DOS)
Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2013 9:03 AM
Subject: FW: Per our conversation earlier today
I’m so sorry that I wasn’t able to respond last night. I hope that it didn’t create a headache.
This will confirm that it is our opinion that the County Charter Review Committee is likely not a public body as defined by the Open Meetings Law.
Our opinion is based on the differences between city and county charter review committees as set forth in the Municipal Home Rule Law. As outlined in OML-AO-2415
(http://docs.dos.ny.gov/coog/otext/o2415.htm) and OML-AO-2900
(http://docs.dos.ny.gov/coog/otext/o2900.htm), city charter commissions, defined in MHRL section 36, have certain authorities and responsibilities, including the power to appoint and remove employees and consultants, and the responsibility to conduct public hearings, private hearings, to take testimony, to subpoena witnesses and to require the production of documents. County charter commissions, on the other hand, mentioned in section 33(5), are granted no such treatment in the law. Although a county board of supervisors has authority to appoint a review commission by resolution, the entity is not afforded the same authorities or structure as a city charter review commission.
A county legislature could require that a charter review commission operate according to the requirements of the Open Meetings Law, of course; however, again, this will confirm that based on our understanding of the judicial decision in MFY Legal Services, outlined in the above opinions, a county charter review commission would likely not be subject to the Open Meetings Law.
I hope that this is helpful.
Camille S. Jobin-Davis, Esq.
NYS Committee on Open Government
Department of State
99 Washington Avenue, Suite 650
Albany, NY 12231