Skip to content

To tell or not to tell — by Tommy Purser

When I attended Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) training as a member of the Hazlehurst City Council, instructors taught city officials that they cannot disclose what is discussed in an “executive session.”

Since pretty much the same folks that teach GMA classes also teach Association County Commissions Georgia (ACCG) classes, I feel confident in assuming county officials were taught the same thing.

That’s not really true. But, generally speaking, both city and county officials here think they are prohibited from revealing anything said in a closed session. Again, that’s not really true.

Obviously, there are some things that should not be disclosed, such as sale/purchase of real estate because that could adversely affect the amount paid for public property or  the amount of taxpayer money spent for property.  Also, sensitive information about public employee evaluations is not a matter that should be spread among the public. Those are internal evaluations meant to enable public officials to manage public employees efficiently to the advantage of public taxpayers.

But public officials still have their First Amendment right of free speech. That right doesn’t disappear just because things they want to speak about were learned in an executive session. Certainly discretion should be used. But elected officials have the right to use the discretion as they see fit.

Leave a Comment