76 Op. Att'y Gen. 276 (1987)

OPINION NO. OAG 60-87,

Wisconsin Attorney General Opinions
 
76 OAG 276 277 278

6 November 1987

County Board;
Open Meeting;

A county board chairperson and a county board
committee are not authorized by section
19.85(1)(c), Stats., to meet in closed
session to discuss appointments to county
board committees; however, in appropriate
circumstances section 19.85(1)(f)
would authorize closed sessions.

MICHAEL J. HARVEY,
Corporation Counsel Ozaukee County

You have asked for my opinion whether the
county board chairperson and the members of
the administrative committee may meet in
closed session to discuss appointments of
county board supervisors to committees.

In the past, the administrative committee
has closed the meetings under section
19.85(1)(c), Stats., to discuss committee
appointments for supervisors.

I have concluded that section 19.85(1)(c)
does not authorize the county board
chairperson and the administrative
committee to meet in closed session
to discuss the appointments.

Section 19.85(1)(c) authorizes a
meeting to be closed to consider

    "employment, promotion, compensation
     or performance evaluation data of
     any public employe over which the
     governmental body has jurisdiction
     or exercises responsibility."

Only county board members are appointed by
the chairperson to the committees.

See Section 59.06(1), Stats.
 

Because the county board members are elected
officials performing the duties of their
office when serving on the county board
committees, they cannot be public
employes under section 19.85(1)(c).

Cf.

Gannett Satellite Info. Net. v. Bd. of Educ.,
201 N.J. Super. 65,
492 A.2d 703, 705-06 (1984).

    "The personnel exception to the
     Open Public Meetings Act does not apply
     to elected officials whose continued
     retention in office is dependent on the
     approval of the public, not on any
     particular agency or department."

Therefore, the meeting to discuss the
appointment of the committee members cannot
be closed under section 19.85(1)(c).

Only under limited circumstances would a
closed session of the meeting be authorized.

It would be permitted by Section
19.85(1)(f) for the purpose of:

Considering financial, medical, social or
personal histories or disciplinary data of
specific persons, preliminary consideration
of specific personnel problems or the
investigation of charges against specific
persons except where paragraph 19.85(1)(b)
applies which, if discussed in public, would
be likely to have a substantial adverse
effect upon the reputation of any person
referred to in such histories or data, or
involved in such problems or investigations.

 
76 OAG 276 277 278

However, before the meeting could be closed
under section 19.85(1)(f), at least one
committee member or the chairperson would
have to have actual knowledge of information
which he or she reasonably believed would be
likely to have a substantial adverse effect
upon the reputation involved and there must
be a probability that such information would
be divulged.

74 Op. Att'y Gen. 70, 71  (1985).

The meeting could then be closed only
to discuss such information.

DJH:SWK

 
76 OAG 276 277 278