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Attorney: Don't leak private information

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By David Giuliani

The City Council voted unanimously to close the doors to discuss personnel and litigation matters at a meeting last week. But the city attorney issued the governing body a public warning.

Carlos Quiones noted that a “code of ethics” used to be posted on a wall in the council’s chambers, now removed because of a planned renovation. He said the code requires council members to honor the confidentiality of closed sessions.

He said he didn’t have evidence that any members were revealing the discussions during closed sessions, but he had seen hints of it.

“If there is evidence, I will recommend we not have executive sessions,” he said.

He added that the state Open Meetings Act has exceptions for a reason.

None of the council members reacted to Quiones’ warning. He later told the Optic that council members could reveal portions of closed sessions that weren’t allowed to be discussed in secret. But he promised that he would stop the council from discussing issues that should be addressed in public.

Compared to most governing bodies in the area, the council has held few closed sessions over the last few years.

Other bodies — including the East and West school boards, the Luna Community College Board of Trustees, the Highlands University Board of Regents and the County Commission — hold closed sessions as part of all their meetings.

Closed sessions have become such a fixture at Luna board meetings that board members have pizzas delivered to them. The trustees often meet longer in closed session than they do in public.