It can't be easy to balance the need for openess and transparency with the need to hash out ideas in private from time to time. Even so, the Nutter administration's new interpretation of state open meetings laws is broader than one would expect from a mayor who won his office promising to restore ethics and transparency to City Hall.
Basically, in the Nutter administration's view, he and a quorum of Council can meet pretty much anytime so long as they're not making actual law or deliberating with the imminent intent to make law. See below for the text of Smith's take on the Sunshine Law, just released today. For a different take on the Sunshine Law, see here.
This narrow reading of open meetings law doesn't seem to track with the Nutter administration otherwise admirable record on openess and transparency. By and large, administration officials are accessible to the press (not to mention the mayor himself). PhillyStat meetings are open to the public and available through the city website. Public records that in prior administrations were hard to get are generally easier to access now.
But for whatever reason, Nutter's trademark openness has not applied to the council budget briefings.
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