Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 22, 2013

CITY SPENDING: Taxpayer-funded city council sessions at local restaurants draw mixed reviews


Niagara Gazette —

Council members say, as they understand it, there is no violation of the public meetings law. 

They’re getting their advice from another city official who frequently joins them for between-meeting dinners — Corporation Counsel Craig Johnson who said he doesn’t see any issue with the dinners because they are being conducted in public places, namely local restaurants.

“They’re not meeting privately,” he explains. “It’s a social event more than anything.

“It’s not unusual for citizens in the restaurant to come over and chat with those at the table and vice versa. There’s certainly nothing secret or private that’s discussed and there’s certainly no transacting of city business.”

When asked by the Gazette how residents could be assured no city business was being discussed or transacted without a record of the gatherings or members of the press or the public directly involved, Johnson said he and his fellow city attorneys were there to make sure. 

“That’s true, there are no records because it’s not a meeting,” he said. “If (council members) would tend to stray in that direction, then Mr. (assistant corporation counsel Tom) O’Donnell or I would reel them in but, so far, that hasn’t taken place.” 

Johnson acknowledged that city business is sometimes discussed and that council members do, at times, ask for legal advice regarding issues, the content of which, he argues, is protected by client-attorney privilege.

“There are issues of common interest that are discussed,” Johnson said, “but no action is taken during these meetings, nor are there any votes.”

Johnson also maintains that when similar questions were raised about the informal council session years ago, Freeman’s office provided the city with a written ruling suggesting the gatherings were allowed under the law. 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
House Ads
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page

Do you think cigarette sales to non-Native American customers should be taxed on reservations?

Yes. Items should be taxed like they are everywhere else.
No, the indian reservations are sovereign land and they are selling them on their land.
Not up to me. Native Americans decide the rules on their land.
Don't care. Smoking isn't good for you.
     View Results