Sandusky police search committee again cloudy on sunshine laws

Dec 11, 2012


I attended the second Police Chief Selection Committee meeting. After the first meeting, I figured, finally, the group was on the right track and all would go well. Having knowledge of the Sunshine Law, the second meeting seemed to be a little different and I wondered if I spoke too soon. Once again, the Police Chief Selection Committee appeared to be in violation of the Sunshine Law. The Register had confirmed my findings in the article they recently wrote.


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How many times does the situation have to happen before the people overseeing the committees understand the laws? Committees are not considered informal meetings. Committees are conducted in the same manner in which the City Commission meetings are conducted, the same Sunshine Laws apply.

Lately, the public has been receiving a great deal of education regarding the Sunshine Law and public records but is anyone really paying attention? Costly mistakes and wasted time can leave you wondering if it is truly the lack of training or are the Sunshine Laws purposely being disregarded.

There is evidence that some government entities like to push the buttons when it comes to complying with the Sunshine Laws.  At times, the situation can become an absolute challenge. There are times when the entities push the requester’s patience to extremes but the entity must comply whether they like it or not as the choice is not up to them but what the law states.

Until next week, the City Attorney needs to keep a tight rein on the committee until they get through the process. It is essential that the committee produce a fair and balanced outcome.


car 54

Let Mr. Brown do his job. You might be surprised at the result.


And the moral of this story is, when possible, make sure your committee is selected by a public official, versus a public body (in this case the commission)...(I know, I know, the charter ascertains that public officials sit on this particular selection committee, so SS laws do apply - I'm talking about in other instances).

Really, I don't think the average citizens understands these SS laws and it's not necessarily fair to beat up on them. They probably get asked, feel its and honor and do the best they can. I highly doubt anyone sits them down and explains SS laws.

As to the public officials that DO sit on these committees, they may not realize as well. This is a fuzzy area of the law and even the attorney general's own manual on SS laws states that it's open to interpretation by the court.

BW1's picture

"Really, I don't think the average citizens understands these SS laws and it's not necessarily fair to beat up on them. They probably get asked, feel its and honor and do the best they can."

Doing their best means learning the rules governing the task. It's not that confusing - they work for us, and as their bosses, we're entitled to oversee their work.


You miss my point, does anyone explain to these average citizens the duty they are taking on? Do they know they work for "us?" I highly doubt it. I agree, they should learn the rules, but if someone doesn't tell them there are rules, how are they supposed to know?

They didn't even know what the City charter states, you expect them to know the ins and outs of the Ohio SS law?


Five minutes are up.
Now run for office, and...
second-guess yourself.


THE reason elected officials, and/or appointed committees can contantly sidestep The alleged "law" is because there is NO penalty for violating the "Sunshine" part.

What must be done, as was done in Colorado (the identical Sunshsine Law) is to file a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas. I'm sorry, it might be to file a civil complaint.

Anyway this is where fines and other forms of punishment surface. The Register people know the law, and a judge would know, or learn, the law. The court then has the duty, and no choice, but to warn the defendants that they must be educated in all aspects of the Sunshine Law and must honor legal requests for openess, and do it, in a timely fashion. And not just for the media but also for the general public.

And that's all there is. Well, not really.

If the entity, having been warned by the court, ignores the "warning"..... then they will have committed a "Contempt of Court" and that's where the worm turns. In the case ib which I am familiar, a school board snubbed the court's order and was fined a hefty amount for "contempt of court"....and also had to pay the legal fees of the newspaper.

Gee, that felt good.