S Memo 11-3

Posted on Oct 18, 2010 in Informal Opinions - Sunshine Law

S Memo 11-3
October 18, 2010
Board Member’s Correspondence Concerning Chairman Selection

Requester asked for an investigation into whether the Hawaii Historic Places Review Board (the Board) violated the Sunshine Law when one of its members authored a letter, which was e-mailed to the other Board members, regarding the selection of a new Board chairperson in an upcoming election (Letter).

In its review of the Letter, OIP found that it specifically referred to the anticipated selection of a new Board chairperson at an upcoming election and that it expressed the authoring member’s opinion of the desirable personal traits and abilities that she wanted her fellow Board members to keep in mind when selecting a new chairperson. OIP found that because the Letter concerned the Board’s upcoming officer election and was forwarded to all members, the Letter improperly constituted the members’ discussion of the Board’s “official business” in violation of the Sunshine Law’s open meeting requirement.

Where a board member will not be attending a meeting and wishes to share his or her views or opinions on an agenda item with the other members, OIP recommends that the board member do so by submitting a statement as written testimony for the board to consider at the meeting together with other written public testimony. Alternatively, the board member could use the Sunshine Law’s two-person permitted interaction to communicate views or opinions to only one other board member, i.e. the Chair, prior to the meeting, with the understanding that the second member would then convey those views to the other board members at the meeting. See HRS § 92-2.5(a).