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Pr. George's Union 'Looking Into' Whether County Violated Open Meetings Act; 'Emergency' Meeting Slated for Next Week

UPDATED

A day after Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) met with members of the County Council to discuss state budget cuts -- while giving virtually no advance notice of the meeting beforehand -- a union head says his group will "look into" whether the sit-down violated Maryland's Open Meetings Act.

Vince Canales, president of the county's Fraternal Order of Police, said the meeting -- which was advertised via a bulletin board posting after 10 p.m. the night before -- in essence excluded the public.

"We're going to look into whether or not there was a violation," Canales said. "I think the one thing that was very clear is this was not an open meeting."

Allegations of inappropriately closed meetings are not new to the county. Last November, Johnson held a closed-door session with state lawmakers and council members to inform them of a projected $70 million budget shortfall. In that instance, a reporter was barred from the meeting, and officials who did attend later declined to discuss it on the record.

Last March, the FOP filed a complaint with the state attorney general's office alleging that the County Council inappropriately invoked executive session -- a means of discussing confidential information, such as lawsuits, in private. The complaint was reviewed and dismissed, Canales said.

Meanwhile, Canales said he and other union heads have been called to an "emergency" meeting with Johnson next Tuesday morning to discuss the state cuts. No word from the exec's office yet on whether Johnson considers the meeting "public."

Update: A spokesman for Johnson, Jim Keary, said Tuesday's meeting with union heads is by invitation only. "It is not a public meeting."

By Jonathan Mummolo  |  September 11, 2009; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  Jonathan Mummolo , Maryland State Budget , Prince George's County  
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