When Maryland jumped to the Big 10 on Nov. 19, it did so after a couple of hastily arranged secret meetings by the Board of Regents, with university administrators. Even though the chairman of the regents said these were not, under state law, "meetings," there are now draft "meeting notes" online for approval at the regents' Dec. 7 meeeting.
The regents apparently first heard of this on Nov. 15; by Saturday the 17th they were told there would be a conference-call meeting the next day.
The “draft meeting notes” of two secret meetings were made available on Dec. 3 and they are contained online in a link on the agenda for the upcoming meeting.
They do answer a few questions about who was there and what was discussed.
They say, in full:
University System of Maryland Board of Regents
Special Meeting on November 18, 2012
The Board held a Special Meeting on November 18, 2012 in Executive Session via conference call at 4:30 p.m. Those on the call were: Chairman Shea, Regents Attman, Florestano, Gooden, Hance, Hershkowitz, Johnson, Kelly, Kinkopf, McMillen, Michaux Gonzales, Gossett, and Young; Chancellor Kirwan, Vice Chancellors Raley and Vivona; Ms. Doyle; other USM office and institutional staff and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Faulk.
A. Chairman Shea noted that the meeting was in closed session and the regents were advised by Assistant Attorney General Faulk regarding the confidentiality and other legal issues pertaining to the closed session.
B. The regents were briefed on the proposal for UMCP to move from the ACC to the Big Ten.
C. The regents were briefed on the status of an ICA review for Towson State Uni-versity.
University System of Maryland Board of Regents
Special Meeting on November 19, 2012
The Board held a Special Meeting on November 19, 2012 in Executive Session at 8:30 a.m. The meeting was held at UMB, Saratoga Building, 220 Arch Street, Baltimore, in the 14th floor conference room. Regents participated in the meeting via conference call and in person. Those participating in the meeting were: Chairman Shea, Regents Attman, Florestano, Gooden, Gossett, Hance, Hershkowitz, Johnson, Kelly, Kinkopf, McMillen, Michaux Gonzales, Reid and Young; Chancellor Kirwan, Asso-ciate Vice Chancellor Moultrie; Ms. Doyle; other USM office and institutional staff and Assistant Attorney General Thomas Faulk.
A. The regents continued the discussion from November 18 on the details of the Big Ten proposal to UMCP to join the league.
B. The regents were provided with additional detail regarding the proposal for the UMCP move from the ACC to the Big Ten. After discussion, thirteen regents endorsed the UMCP application to the Big Ten; one regent did not endorse the application.
C. The meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.
Beneath the Orange Diploma I analyze what issues this set of minutes raises (the matter of no public notice and improper procedures is separate).
If you were inclined to pen a complaint for the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board, it might cover these items:
No Recorded Vote to Close
The minutes fail to record a motion and vote to close the meeting. Rather, on Nov. 18, they record a diktat by the chairman that “the meeting is closed.”
The minutes fail to give a specific statutory citation for each closed session topic.
Apparently the topics were “UMCP to move from the ACC to the Big Ten” and something indecipherable, an “ICA review for Towson State University.” A topic must be meaningful, not jargon or boilerplate, in order to satisfy the Open Meetings Act.
Reason for barring public from Discussion of Each Topic
The minutes fail to identify the reason for closing the session for either topic.
The minutes fail to identify who was present, specifically. The boilerplate “other USM office and institutional staff” does not fulfill the statutory requirement. And were one or more officials from the Big Ten also participants?
The minutes fail to identify what actions, if any, was taken at the Sunday meeting. We assume from news reports and the university officials’ statements that one action was to agree to meet secretly again on Monday morning. Apparently the followup was set up via email shortly after non-“adjournment” of the Sunday meeting.
Adjournment Motion and Vote (an action) Not Recorded
The minutes fail to note when the Sunday meeting was adjourned. However, it had to be adjourned, because:
Closed Sessions cannot be “continued.”
On Monday, “The regents continued the discussion from November 18 on the details of the Big Ten proposal to UMCP to join the league.” Unfortunately, this requires separate meeting notice; convening in open session; and a properly handled vote to close the session to the public.
Failure to Notify Public of Location
We note that the Monday meeting was held away from the location of a previously scheduled regent committee meeting, which gives the appearance of deliberately seeking to avoid the press and the public. After all, by Sunday night, word had leaked out about the Big Ten discussion.
Votes Must Be Recorded
Merely saying “thirteen regents endorsed the UMCP application to the Big Ten; one regent did not en-dorse the application” does not provide the legally necessary information on the motion and vote, in-cluding who voted and how. See 7 OMCB 237.
Minutes are Minutes
We note that minutes are minutes, not matter what they are called, and they are required to present certain minimum information for the public. Calling minutes “meeting notes” does not excuse any public body from its statutory obligations to provide accurate, informative minutes.
The interested reader is directed to several OMCB Opinions on the web:
We point without hesitation to the MDTA and 8 OMCB 46 on the subject of “emergency” meetings held without sufficient public notice, that is, the Sunday confab; and a meeting “convened in closed session” – a legal impossibility.
“Minutes to disclose how each member votes when a recorded vote is required.”
We also point to Chestertown and 5 OMCB 184 on the subject of “continued” closed sessions, that is, Monday’s secretive gathering and vote. Which makes Monday’s meeting an illegal closed session, be-cause it is not possible to legally “continue” a secret meeting to a secret future time and place.
Crossposted to www.md-ta.blogspot.com.