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Airport Authority CEO accuses board of illegal meeting

The former chief executive officer of the Wayne County Airport Authority in Michigan is claiming fellow members of the Airport Authority broke the law when they held a session behind closed doors, which is a direct violation of the Open Meetings Act. But a news report points out their actions may have been legal after all and the CEO's claims could have little merit.

Under the law, public bodies must conduct all their business in a public forum. The only time they can conduct a meeting behind closed doors is when they are discussing business litigation that is pending. Because there is no pending litigation on the authority's plate, the woman assumes they held the meeting illegally to discuss her fate as CEO.

The CEO and her lawyer called out the Authority publicly at a recent meeting, pointing out they did not announce what topics they would discuss in the closed-door meeting. Even after the accusations, the woman claims the board offered no explanation as to what matter prompted them to call the meeting.

However, the meeting may not have been executed illegally, as public bodies can also meet behind closed doors if they are receiving and discussing written legal advice from a lawyer. Even so, the discussion must be limited to that topic alone. During the public meeting, a board member cited this rule.

While the debate continues to rage on whether the Airport Authority was in its right to hold the meeting in the confines of a private room, the board hesitated to comment on the situation and directed reporters to speak to their lawyer. It is unclear at this time whether the CEO will pursue any legal action in regards to her allegations against the board.

Source:, "Did the Wayne County Airport Authority really violate the Open Meetings Act with Monday's closed session?", Jeff T. Wattrick, Nov. 2, 2011

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