Apparently members of East Palestine Village Council need a refresher course on the Ohio Sunshine Law.
The village is currently considering applicants to fill the police chief's position recently vacated by the retirement of Clyde L. Hoffmeister.
Councilmen Scott Rauch and Jim Tyger are on the hiring committee, along with Village Manager Gary Clark. Although Rauch and Tyger are on the committee, East Palestine's charter grants Clark the ultimate decision in the hiring.
At Monday's Village Council meeting, Councilman Don Elzer asked if council members could sit in on the interviews, but Rauch said that wouldn't be "fair or beneficial" for candidates as it would require the interview to be conducted publicly in order to not violate Sunshine Laws.
A closer check of the the Sunshine law, however, shows that it does allow these interviews to be conducted in executive session. A copy of the Ohio Sunshine Law can be downloaded at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/yellowbook.
According to the Sunshine Law, "there are very limited topics that the members of a public body may consider in executive session:" and one of those is certain personnel matters.
The Sunshine Law states, "A public body may adjourn into executive session:
To consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee or official;"
This situation appears as if it would certainly fall into that category.
Although the East Palestine charter gives Clark the authority to make the hiring decision, why shouldn't other East Palestine council members be allowed to sit in on the interviews when the hiring of such an important village position is at stake. The committee needs only to adjourn into executive session to legally accommodate them.
We encourage all interested councilmen to attend these interviews.