… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Monday, August 28, 2017
A Penchant for Secrecy Part II
In September 2015 The Periodic Table described violations of the Open Meeting Law by the U of M administration. See, A Penchant for Secrecy.
The violations of the Open Meeting Law are continuing. See, for example:
July 13, 2017 No record of discussions during the 2017 annual retreat of Board of Regents (the second day of their July meeting).
May 4, 2017 The Faculty Consultative Committee (the major faculty committee) closed its meeting for discussion of a previous meeting with the Board of Regents chair and for a discussion of the University strategic plan; see section 2 at p. 2 of the May 4, 2017 FCC report.
March 21, 2017 The Senate Committee on Finance & Planning held an off the record discussion about the Board of Regents and direct management of the University; see section 4 at p. 6 of the March 21, 2017 SCFP report.
A paragraph of the Open Meeting Law requires that meetings of the governing body of a public body must be open to the public. Minn. Stat. 13D.01 subd. 1(b). In 2004 the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the U of M is a "public body" and applied the law to meetings of the Board of Regents (the governing body of the University). Star Tribune Co. v. University of Minnesota Board of Regents, 683 N.W.2d 274 (Minn. 2004).
The next paragraph of the Open Meeting Law requires that the meetings of any committee of a public body must be open to the public. Minn. Stat. 13D.01 subd. 1(c). In 2010 the former U of M general counsel attempted to limit the application of this paragraph with the argument that it applies only to committees that have authority to make final policy decisions (a distinction not found in the statute or in the opinion of the state supreme court). See the final paragraph on p. 4 of the September 16, 2010 FCC Report. This limitation would exempt most, if not all, committees, as committees usually only make recommendations to the governing body of an organization.
The argument of the former general counsel does not square with the statutory language that includes any committee of a public body in its scope. When the words of a statute are not ambiguous, the letter of the law may not be disregarded under the pretext of pursuing its spirit. Minn. Stat. 645.16. But the administration applies statutory language the same way as Humpty Dumpty, who said to Alice, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."
The failure to comply with the plain language of the statute does not serve the University well when the administration goes to the legislature to seek increases in state appropriations.
Michael W. McNabb
University of Minnesota B.A. 1971; J.D. 1974
University of Minnesota Alumni Association life member
at 5:18 PM