S Memo 19-2

Posted on Mar 14, 2019 in Informal Opinions - Sunshine Law

S Memo 19-2
March 14, 2019
Stadium Authority’s Executive Session

At its meeting on November 29, 2018, the Stadium Authority (Authority), Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) went into executive session to consider a proposed consultant contract and announced that the purpose of its executive session was to “consult with [its] attorney on questions and issues pertaining to [its] powers, duties, privileges, immunities, and liabilities.”  HRS § 92‑5(a)(4) (2012).  The Authority explained that the Deputy Attorney General assigned to the Board was present during the Executive Board meeting for consultation.  OIP found that the Stadium’s consideration of the Proposed Contract in executive session was limited to hearing a report from a DAGS employee and there was no discussion by Authority members and its Deputy Attorney General.  In the absence of any discussion by Authority members and its legal counsel about the Proposed Contract, the executive session did not qualify for the authorized purpose of attorney consultation under section 92‑5(a)(4), HRS.

The Authority’s response to the appeal also asserted that “discussions of contracts in open session that haven’t been fully executed would frustrate governmental processes.”  However, the Authority’s response did not cite to any of the authorized purposes in section 92-5(a), HRS, or any other law, that would possibly apply to allow a closed meeting based upon this asserted justification.   Because the Authority’s consideration of the Proposed Contract, which was limited to hearing a report from a DAGS employee, did not qualify for any of the authorized purposes to hold an executive session set forth in section 92-5(a), HRS, the Authority’s executive session to consider the Proposed Contract was improper under the Sunshine Law.