Knox Officials' Phone Discussions May Violate Open Meetings Law

Knoxville (AP) -- Knox County Commissioners say they have discussed county business in private telephone conversations, in what appears to be a violation of the state's Open Meetings Act.

Six county commissioners told the Knoxville News Sentinel that they discussed with other members outside of meetings the appointments of 12 people to take the place of officeholders removed when the county's term limits were upheld earlier this month.

Tennessee's Open Meetings Act allows for chance meetings of two officials on a public body, but states "no such chance meetings, informal assemblages, or electronic communication shall be used to decide or deliberate public business in circumvention of the spirit or requirements of this part."

Frank Gibson, Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, said the discussions described by commissioners have been specifically ruled as violations by the state's court of appeals.

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