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Manhattan Beach: Attorney conveys open meeting violation allegation

City attorney Andrew Kalis informed the Manhattan Beach City Council at its Tuesday, June 6, meeting of an open meeting law violation allegation he recently received.

Kalis said the allegation was that there was communication among council members between the April and May meetings, suggesting they may have discussed a city topic outside of a public meeting.

Kalis said he then received a call from the League of Minnesota Cities, who received the same allegation, though the attorney said he has no evidence to support the claim.

"The league directed me to give everybody a couple of pointers on open meeting law to make sure I have given everyone a refresher," Kalis said. "The league has offered to hold some training in the area, so I thought I would pass that along in case there's any interest in that."

Kalis also reminded the council that three or more council members meeting to discuss official city business outside of a city council meeting is a public meeting violation.

When city council member Janis Allen asked who complained, Kalis said he is not comfortable sharing names.

Though the attorney said he only wanted to convey that there was an allegation without supporting evidence, Mayor Paul Allen took offense to the claim.

"Yet you're reprimanding us that we need training and so forth about open meeting law violations," the mayor said. "You're creating the atmosphere that it's happened."

"I am not at all saying it happened," Kalis replied. "The league contacted me and said, 'There's been an allegation; we want you to convey to the city council that these are things that are available.' I'm not presuming anything."

Council member Barb Hanson-Wannebo said she thinks a formal report should have to be filed on allegations before the attorney wastes any more time and money. The mayor agreed.

"Obviously if you get a suit filed or something, that's one thing," Paul Allen said. "There wouldn't have been any reason for you (Kalis) to be here tonight ... And then you send out the memorandum and all of that stuff, and the city gets the bill."

Council member Marlene Yurek agreed.

"And we get accused of spending too much money," she said.

Kalis said the planning and zoning administrator is working on a complaint form for his department and recommended the council develop one as well. Then the attorney would not have to be contacted for matters such as these.

At the end of the discussion, Paul Allen said the council should put this topic on the agenda for next month's meeting and instruct the attorney on how to deal with future complaints.