Pat & Skvarla break the law again

By law, NC government meetings are open to the public.

But not the one next week in which high-level elected officials will be trying to shove offshore drilling down the throats of North Carolinians.

A high-level meeting scheduled in Raleigh next week for government officials to discuss offshore drilling will be off-limits to the public and to journalists.

As the closed-door meeting approaches, North Carolina environmental groups who hope to block offshore energy exploration are urging Gov. Pat McCrory to at least allow all stakeholders to attend and listen.

But no, says McSkvarla.

“The inclusion of special interest groups and industry would allow for the potential of the appearance of influence on permit application reviews currently underway by the Obama Administration,” wrote DENR Deputy Secretary and Energy Policy Advisor Don van der Vaart.

“Therefore, the joint decision was made to limit the invitation list to federal and state agencies and elected officials to avoid any potential for real or perceived conflicts of interest,” van der Vaart wrote.

I'm curious why the "joint decision" failed to take the law into account.

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Comments

No special interest groups or industry reps can attend

That's McSkvarla's purported reason for keeping the meeting closed to the public and environmental groups. But it's not only government officials who are allowed to attend [emphasis mine]:

Other speakers come from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Center for Offshore Safety, Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, Consumer Energy Alliance and the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.

Nope, wouldn't want any special interest or industry groups in attendance.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Obey the law

The GOPers are always talking about the rule of law, so why aren't they following it? Posmo, do you have the rule that requires them to keep this meeting open? Let's encourage our state delegation to force open the doors of this meeting. Could the attorney general file something to make them follow the law and open the meeting?

Open meetings law

is here. Excerpt:

§ 143-318.10. All official meetings of public bodies open to the public.

(a) Except as provided in G.S. 143-318.11, 143-318.14A, and 143-318.18, each official meeting of a public body shall be open to the public, and any person is entitled to attend such a meeting.

(b) As used in this Article, "public body" means any elected or appointed authority, board, commission, committee, council, or other body of the State, or of one or more counties, cities, school administrative units, constituent institutions of The University of North Carolina, or other political subdivisions or public corporations in the State that (i) is composed of two or more members and (ii) exercises or is authorized to exercise a legislative, policy-making, quasi-judicial, administrative, or advisory function. In addition, "public body" means the governing board of a "public hospital" as defined in G.S. 159-39 and the governing board of any nonprofit corporation to which a hospital facility has been sold or conveyed pursuant to G.S. 131E-8, any subsidiary of such nonprofit corporation, and any nonprofit corporation owning the corporation to which the hospital facility has been sold or conveyed.

I presume McSkvarla would argue this isn't a meeting of a "public body"...and yet it just might be. That's for lawyers to determine, and yes, the Attorney General ought to be looking into this.

I can't believe that the media and their attorneys just accepted this and said, "Gosh, guess we can't be there" instead of "this is a notice of a lawsuit".

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

This is a meeting of the State of NC!

I think you are right that they will say this is not an authority, board, etc. The rule seems to say that. But, this is a meeting of the State of North Carolina - with all of the different "public bodies" attending. I think Roy Cooper can quickly force them to change their tune with "a notice of a lawsuit".

Emulating Dick Cheney

and his closed-door "energy summit" that dictated public policy for years to come, which produced such jewels as the "Halliburton loophole" that elevated natural gas drillers above the Clean Water Act.

There is no "good reason" to keep the public out of this meeting, but a whole lot of potential bad reasons.