You are on page 1of 11
Mississippi ETHICS COMMISSION Post Office Box 22746 Jackson, Mississippi 39225-2746 Telephone: 601-959-1285 © wwwaethicsstate.ms.us © Telecopier: 601-359-1292 February 1, 2019 Ms. Heather Smith Board Attorney, City of Bay St. Louis 1300 25" Avenue, Ste. 204 Gulfport, MS 39501 Re: — Open Meetings Case No. M-18-013; Noonan vs. Mayor & Councilmen, City of Bay St. Louis Dear Ms. Smith, Enclosed please find a copy of the Final Order in the above referenced case. This Final Order was issued in accordance with Rule 4.6, Rules of the Mississippi Ethics Commission. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office. Sincerely, ONIA SHURDEN Hearing Officer, Mississippi Ethics Commission Ms. Lana T. Noonan 1009 Fayard Street Waveland, MS 39576 (Enclosure) SS/Ik BEFORE THE MISSISSIPPI ETHICS COMMISSION LANA T, NOONAN COMPLAINANT vs. CASE NO. M-18-013 MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL, CITY OF BAY ST. LOUIS RESPONDENT. FINAL ORDER This matter came before the Commission through an Open Meetings Complaint filed by Lana T. Noonan against the Mayor and City Council for Bay Saint Louis (the “couneil”). The council filed a response to the complaint by and through its attorney. The Ethics Commission has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to Section 25-41-15, Miss. Code of 1972. A Preliminary Report and Recommendation was issued in this matter on December 7, 2018. The respondents filed a Request for Reconsideration in response to the Preliminary Report and Recommendation. The hearing officer prepared and presented a Final Report and Recommendation in accordance with Rule 4.6, Rules of the Mississippi Ethics Commission, and the Ethies Commission issued this final order at its regular meeting on the date hereof, OF FACT 1.1 Ina complaint filed June 4, 2018, Ms. Lana Noonan alleges the Mayor and City Council for the City of Bay Saint Louis violated the Open Meetings Act at its May 8, 2018 regular meeting, by: (1) taking action on an item not listed on the agenda; (2) failing to state with sufficient specificity the reasons for entering executive session; (3) discussing matters in executive session not announced to the public prior to entering executive session; (4) discussing the Bay Saint Louis Historic Preservation Commission (“HPC”) in executive session, and (5) discussing city business ia email prior to the May 8 meeting. 1.2. Specifically, she states in her complaint: 1. Council acted on an item of business that was not on their published Agenda, which was the dismissal of a Commissioner from the Bay St. Louis Historie Preservation Commission. (hereafter to be referred to in this complaint as HPC). ‘The only reference to HPC on the published Agenda was the appointment of a Commissioner, which Council did not act upon. 2. Acitizen polled Council, one by one, at Public Forum, asking if they were going to act on any business pertaining to HPC that evening either in open or executive session, All said “no.” Ward 4 Councilman, Larry Smith stated that he had “no opinion on HPC.” This resulted in some citizens leaving the meeting thing their question had been answered by theit clected officials.! “This paragraph does not appear to state an allegation ofa violation of the Open Meetings Act, and instead appears to be a description ofa portion of the meetin. M-18-013 Final Order ___ Page 2 of 10 3. At the end of the meeting prior to adjournment, Council President, Hoffman, asked Council if any of them had any items to discuss that required an executive session. None commented. ‘Then City Attorney, Heather Smith, stated that she had two land purchases and 4 or 5 “pending litigations” to discuss with the Council. I complain that the City Attorney's request for executive session lacked the specificity requirement as stated in Miss. Ethics Opinion no M-17- 017, p3--2.3 4, After re-entering regular session, Ward 4 Councilman, Larry Smith (who stated earlier in the meeting that “he had no opinion on HPC”), motioned to dismiss a sitting Commissioner from HPC. Motion was seconded by Ward 6 Councilman, DeSalvo. No discussion. Motion passed. Those voting for the dismissal were, Hoffman, DeSalvo, Zimmerman, and Smith. Voting no, were Seal and Reed. I complain that Council violated the Miss. Open Meetings Act by not confining their executive session discussion only to those topies which were announced to the public prior to entering closed session, Reference Miss. Ethics case no, M-17-017, page 4, Hinds County at 110-111, only the business announced for entering executive session can be discussed. 5. Lalso complain that the discussion of HPC and its Commissioners does not meet the criteria of executive session as stated in the Miss. Open Meetings Act, section 25-41-71 through 4, HPC Commissioners are not city employe ‘They are citizen volunteers. 1.3 In support of her allegation that the council improperly discussed the HPC in executive session, Ms. Noonan states in her complaint that: It is now a documented fact through an interview Ward 3 Councilman, Jeffrey Reed, gave to the Sun Herald Newspaper, (May 17, 2018) that the discussion of HPC and its Commissioners was discussed in this May 8, executive session, and ultimately acted upon by Council that same evening. In fact, according to Councilman Reed, there was an effort to dissolve HPC altogether in executive session. Reed and Ward 1 Councilman, Doug Seal, were the only Councilmen to vote “no” to the dismissal of the Commissioner that evening. 14 Ms. Noonan also provided a copy of the agenda for the May 8, 2018 meeting, a video clip of the May 8, 2018 meeting, showing Ms. Terie Velardi addressing the council, and two articles from the Sun-Herald newspaper in support of her complaint. Ms. Noonan also provided links to video of the May 8, 2018 meeting on facebook.com.? At the end of the second video, the council discussed whether they needed to go into closed session to determine the need to enter executive session. City Attorney Heather Smith can be heard saying that she had to discuss two different prospective purchases of property and four or five different pending litigation matters to 2 aps/wow S849 videos/vb.1 2éetheater and husps:l/www Jacebook,con/106832842705R49/videos/vb. 1068328427058 Piyne=28 theater