Open meetings law requirements clarified
By Enterprise staff
As your local newspaper, we are on a constant quest to bring you the most accurate news and information. With everchanging state law, everyone can get confused and frustrated on how to handle open meetings, which are codifed within the state statutes.
As Kittson County continues its effort to find an administrator, the county board has narrowed down the field to two candidates. However, when they conducted interviews with three candidates, state law dictates those names then become public data under section 13.43, subd. 3 of the Data Practices Act.
The three candidates interviewed were Pat Oman, Susie Van Blaircom and Aimee Sugden.
In a meeting on Thursday, Dec. 7, the commission discussed those candidates and narrowed the field to two — Oman and Sugden. However, the board referred to them as interviewees 1, 2 and 3.
Prior to conducting interviews, only data regarding their veteran status, test scores, rank of eligibility list, job history, education and training, and work availability can be released.
The law specifically states, “Names of applicants shall be private data except when certified as eligible for appointment to a vacancy or when applicants are considered by the appointing authority to be finalists for a position in public employment. For purposes of this subdivision, ‘finalist’ means an individual who is selected to be interviewed by the appointing authority prior to selection.”
The county commission is the appointing authority.
Also, the Open Meetings Law clearly states governmental bodies cannot close a meeting to discuss candidates for government employment. There is no exception within the Open Meetings Law, which is Chapter 13D, regarding this subject.
We felt it necessary to clarify this information as it is our job to inform you of governmental actions. We will strive to be clearer regarding Open Meetings Law in the future.