ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany City Commissioner Tommie Postell called for an investigation into how information discussed in a confidential meeting of the commission was leaked to local media.
Postell is referring to a July 20 executive session which was called to address personnel matters and land acquisition. Speculation is that City Manager Alfred Lott was interviewed in relation to the recent resignation of former Human Resources Director Mary LaMont during the meeting and while no commissioner would comment publicly to local media, a local weekly newspaper reportedly published information from the meeting both on an Internet site and in print.
"Some of that information got out and it had to have come from someone at the table," Postell said. "I think we need to investigate how that leak occurred and give it to the D.A. and if he won't do anything with it, give it to the GBI."
Specifically, Postell said he would like the city to look at barring the use of cell phones during meetings, saying that some people appeared to have been texting or using their phones during the session.
A day after the July 20 meeting, Lott announced that he would be tendering a letter of resignation to the commission effective July 30, 2011, but maintains that his decision had nothing to do with LaMont or any other management issue.
In the same vein, Commissioner Roger Marietta asked if Albany Police Department officers could sweep the meeting room for recording devices before they begin executive sessions.
"Most of the time people just get up and leave the room; leaving their stuff behind," Marietta said. "There could be phones or recorders under chairs or something that we wouldn't know about."
The Georgia Open Meetings Act allows for public agencies to go into closed-door sessions in rare circumstances with the most prevalent being to discuss personnel matters, pending litigation, or real estate acquisition, according to a section in "The Red Book: A Guide to Georgia's Sunshine Laws."
The book, which was written by Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker in concert with the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, states, "The law does not require that any meetings be closed.
Agencies may close meetings only as permitted by a specific exemption provided by law."