CHIPLEY-- After a heavily debated introduction to the topic, the question whether the Chipley CRA would be allowed to seek out their own dedicated attorney came to an ati-climatic pause at Thursday’s city council meeting when council decided to table the discussion for a second time.
Council decided to table discussions after City Attorney Michelle Blakenship Jordan, who was not present at the council meeting but was in conference call, said discussions should be tabled when it was made known that two board members from the CRA were in attendance at the council meeting and the public had not been notified of their possible attendance. Jordan said since there had not been a public notice, the city and the CRA could have a Sunshine Law liability issue.
“If this is something that the CRA would vote on or make a recommendation on,” Jordan said. “I just would like to make you aware.”
Heather Lopez, who serves on the CRA and the TDC, had been scheduled to present awards for the council during the evening.
Lopez said she would volunteer to leave the meeting to allow discussions to continue.
Ted Everett, head of the CRA, had come to discuss the issue with the council after having several CRA meetings following the council’s decision to table discussions in October.
“We have business that needs to be discussed tonight,” Everett said. “We are ready to conduct business.”
Everett said if needed he was willing to ask the board if they would be willing to leave the meeting room, though he felt it was not “legally” necessary to do so. Lopez said she would volunteer to leave the meeting to allow discussions to continue, however council made the decision to hold a special meeting.
John “Tommy” Sasser, city council member, said he believed that as long as none of the board members spoke during the meeting, there would be no sunshine law violation.
“It is my understanding that as long as they don’t say anything, then it is perfectly fine for them to stay and listen,” Sasser said.
Council Member Brett Butler also voiced concern about Jordan’s statement saying he believed that it proposed the question about board members being able to be in public meeting together in general.
“By that logic no two CRA member can ever appear in public in the same place.” Butler said. “They can’t be in the same restaurant together or anything.”
Council decided a special meeting would be held on December 19, 2019 at 6 p.m. at city hall to allow for the required time for public notification of CRA’s attendance to the meeting.