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(a) This Section 10 shall be known as the Sunshine Law and shall be liberally construed to require public officials to take official action and to conduct all deliberations upon official business only in open meetings, unless the subject matter is specifically excepted by law.
(b) As used in this section:
(1) "Public body" means the Council, board, commission, committee (including a Committee of the Council), or similar decision making body of this City.
(2) "Meeting" means any prearranged discussion of the public business of the public body by a majority of its members, be it known as a committee meeting, work session, executive session, educational meeting, or by whatever other name called.
(c) All minutes of any public body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times.
The minutes of a regular or special meeting of any such public body shall be promptly recorded and open to public inspection. The minutes need only reflect the general subject matter of discussions in executive sessions authorized under subsection (e) of this section.
(d) Every public body shall, by rule, establish a reasonable method whereby any person may determine the time and place of all regularly scheduled meetings and the time, place, and purpose of all special meetings. A public body shall not hold a special meeting unless it gives at least twenty-four hours advance notice to the news media, except in the event of an emergency requiring immediate official action. In the event of an emergency the member or members calling the meeting shall notify the news media immediately of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting.
The rules shall provide that any person may, upon request and payment of a reasonable fee, obtain reasonable advance notification of all meetings at which any specific type of public business is to be discussed. Provisions for advance notification may include, but are not limited to, mailing the agenda of meetings to all subscribers on a mailing list or mailing notices in self-addressed, stamped envelopes provided by the person.
(e) The members of a public body may hold an executive session only after a majority of a quorum of the public body determines, by a roll call vote, to hold such a session and only at a regular or special meeting for the sole purpose of the consideration of any of the following matters:
(1) To consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against a public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual, unless the public employee, official, licensee, or regulated individual requests a public hearing. Except as otherwise provided by law, no public body shall hold an executive session for the discipline of an elected official for conduct related to the performance of their official duties or for their removal from office. If a public body holds an executive session pursuant to the division (e)(1) of this section, the motion and vote to hold that executive session shall state which one or more of the approved purposes listed in division (e)(1) of this section are the purposes for which the executive session is to be held, but need not include the name of any person to be considered at the meeting.
(2) To consider the purchase of property for public purposes, or for the sale of property at competitive bidding, if premature disclosure of information would give an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage to a person whose personal, or private interest is adverse to the general public interest. No member of a public body shall use this diversion as a subterfuge for providing covert information to prospective buyers or sellers. A purchase or sale of public property is void if the seller or buyer of the public property has received covert information from a member that has not been disclosed to the general public in sufficient time for other prospective buyers and sellers to prepare and submit offers. If the minutes of the public body show that all meetings and deliberations of the public body have been conducted in compliance with this section, any instrument executed by the public body purporting to convey, lease, or otherwise dispose of any right, title, or interest in any public property shall be conclusively presumed to have been executed in compliance with this section insofar as title or other interest of any bonafide purchasers, lessees, or transferees of the property is concerned.
(3) Conferences with an attorney for the public body, concerning disputes involving the public body that are the subject of pending or imminent court action.
(4) Preparing for, conducting, or reviewing negotiations or bargaining sessions with public employees concerning their compensation or other terms and conditions of their employment.
(5) Matters required to be kept confidential by federal law or rules or State statutes.
(6) Specialized details of security arrangements where disclosure of the matters discussed might reveal information that could be used for the purpose of committing, or avoiding prosecution for, a violation of the law.
(Amended 11-6-90; 11-3-20.)
(f) An ordinance, resolution, rule, or formal action of any kind is invalid unless adopted in an open meeting of the public body. An ordinance, resolution, rule, or formal action adopted in an open meeting that results from deliberation in a meeting not open to the public is invalid unless the deliberations were for a purpose specifically authorized in subsection (e) of this section and conducted at an executive session held in compliance with this section.
Any person may bring an action to enforce the provisions of this section. Upon proof of a violation or threatened violation of this section in an action brought by any person, the Court of Common Pleas shall issue an injunction to compel the members of the public body to comply with its provisions.
If the Court of Common Pleas issues an injunction pursuant to this section, the court may award to the party that sought the injunction all court costs and reasonable attorney's fees and also shall order the public body that it enjoins to pay a civil forfeiture of one hundred dollars. If the Court of Common Pleas does not issue an injunction pursuant to this section and the court determines at that time that the bringing of the action was frivolous conduct as defined in division (A) of Section 2323.51 of the Revised Code, the court may award to the public body all court costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
Irreparable harm and prejudice to the party that sought the injunction shall be conclusively and irrebuttably presumed upon proof of a violation or threatened violation of this section.
A member of a public body who knowingly violates any injunction issued pursuant to this subsection may be removed from office by an action brought in the Court of Common Pleas for the purpose by the prosecuting attorney or the attorney general.
If any other provision of this Charter, any ordinance, resolution, or rule of this City, any law of the State of Ohio, or any other law, rule or regulation, whether in effect at this time or hereafter in effect, requires greater disclosure or recordation of meetings of governmental bodies than do the provisions of this Section 10, then such other provision shall control. Furthermore, any and all records of this City which are now or subsequently entitled to be open for public inspection under any statute of the State of Ohio or under any other law, rule, or regulation, shall in fact be open to public inspection.
(g) This amendment shall be severable and, if any section, sub-section, part, word or application thereof is held invalid for any reason, such holding shall not invalidate or affect the force and effect of any other section, subsection, part, word or application thereof.
CODIFIED ORDINANCES OF WESTLAKE