S Memo 14-13

Posted on Mar 4, 2014 in Informal Opinions - Sunshine Law

S Memo 14-13
March 4, 2014
Agenda Item for Discussion of Settlement Agreement

Requester asked whether the Kauai County Council (Council) violated the Sunshine Law during three executive sessions in October 2009 by discussing and ultimately approving a settlement agreement with a business entity under an agenda item that did not reference the dispute or the business entity, and whether the subsequent public disclosure of the agreement means that the portion of the meeting devoted to its discussion should be public.

OIP found that the agenda description for the executive sessions did not adequately notify members of the public that the Council would be discussing a claim by, and a potential settlement agreement with, Sunrise Capital, which deprived members of the public of the opportunity to testify regarding the dispute or the agreement.  See HRS §§ 92-3 and -7(a) (2012).  The Council’s discussions regarding the Sunrise Capital claim and the agreement it eventually voted to enter into with Sunrise Capital were thus done in violation of the Sunshine Law. 

The County’s public disclosure of the settlement agreement did not waive its ability to withhold minutes of the executive sessions in which it discussed the agreement with its counsel.  See HRS § 92-5(a)(4) (2012).  If Requester or another member of the public requests a copy of those minutes, they may still be withheld to the extent that disclosure would defeat the lawful purpose of the executive meeting.  HRS § 92‑9(b) (2012).