Clayton discusses public meeting options

CLAYTON — After a March 13 letter from the Ohio attorney general’s office stating that municipalities could dispense with holding open public meetings in favor of holding meetings among elected officials by teleconference, members of Clayton council discussed that option.

“It’s really your decision, but I would like to have that option on the table,” said City Manager Amanda Zimmerlin. “We have our IT team working on ideas on how we can live stream meetings, so that even though we have an empty audience tonight people would be able to watch the meeting live if they wanted to.”

Zimmerlin spoke with other area city managers to learn what other jurisdictions were doing regarding meetings. She shared what she had learned with members of council.

“Should everyone be quarantined and not be able to come in, we still have to conduct city business,” Zimmerlin noted. “We would be able to have a quorum without physically having to be here.”

The city would continue to hold public meetings unless a quarantine order is mandated by state or national leaders.

“This could be in place as a response to that, or if you decide OK, this is not decreasing…. It’s getting worse. I think based upon the Ohio Department of Health directives and the letter issued by the OAG on March 13, I think you have the ability now to say, OK, we are going to start now conducting these meetings so as to not to put the health of citizens and employees in danger,” said Law Director Martina Dillon. “It’s up to you at this point. If you want to decide to go this route, I think that the intent of doing this now is to be proactive so that we don’t have to call a special meeting to bring everybody in to enact this.”

She added that council could move forward with the decision now, or wait and see what transpires.

Council approved a resolution to have the option on the table if needed.

The letter from the attorney general states that the public must have the ability to watch any of these meetings live with the public also having the ability to comment in some manner while the meetings are taking place.

By Ron Nunnari

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Reach Ron Nunnari at (937) 684-9124, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @RonNunnari