When Roeland Park resident Tom Madigan stood up Tuesday night to question the city council’s approach to executive sessions – where the council met outside of public view – he had done more than a little research on the subject.
Madigan compiled a history of the number of executive sessions that the council had held since February of 2013. Besides the large number of closed sessions, which numbered 46 since the 2013 elections, his long list shows a wide variety of topics. Among those are multiple sessions annually to evaluate the city administrator.
In 2015, it took nine closed meetings for the city administrator evaluation. It required four sessions in late 2013 to early 2014 for the evaluations and five in early 2013. Six closed sessions were held to hire a new city administrator in 2015, including one to discuss qualifications for the job.
While personnel evaluation, land acquisition and litigation are common topics for executive sessions in city government, Roeland Park also has closed discussions to the public for legal advice on city ordinances, which is not so common.
A closed session this week was the third on the sign ordinance. The council also has used executive session to talk about the city ethics ordinance, the anti-discrimination ordinance, the open records act, a special use permit at 47th and Mission Road, election laws, guidelines for council conduct, public forum issues, membership on the committee of the whole and others. The discussions are usually closed under the attorney-client privilege exception in the Kansas Open Meetings Act.