Open Board Meetings – Not So Open
In December, 2015 the Cobb EMC Board of Directors modified Policy 611 which governs how the Member right to attend Cobb EMC Board meetings is implemented. The Board added two requirements for Members to attend a Board meeting:
- a Member must register with Cobb EMC at least 24 hours prior to the meeting, and
- a Member must sign in at least 10 minutes prior to the published start time in order to obtain admittance.
The reasons discussed by the Directors were that Board meetings shouldn’t be disrupted by late arriving attendees, and that notice was needed to ensure sufficient space for the expected number of attendees. Initially, the Board followed the rationale of the requirement by allowing attendance without the 24 hour notice requirement when space was available. It should be noted that since the implementation of open Board meetings, there has never been an occasion when sufficient space was not available in the Board room for those wishing to attend.
However, at both the April and May, 2016 Board meetings, Policy 611 was invoked to prevent a first time attendee from entering the Board meeting because they failed to give 24 hour notice. In both cases, the Member arrived in a timely fashion complying with the ten minute registration requirement with proper identification. At the May meeting, the Member arrived over 45 minutes prior to the Board meeting and was “allowed” to wait in the community room the entire time only to be turned away at the start of the meeting for failing to meet the notification requirement.
In both cases, there was plenty of space in the Board room and other Members were allowed to attend who had met the notification requirement. Two Cobb EMC Directors were asked why the notice requirement was being strictly applied when the original rationale for the policy was only to ensure that there was enough space. Both Directors responded that there is no point in having a policy if it is not strictly adhered to.
It seems that our Board of Directors has lost track of the idea of transparency and accommodation of Members whose interest they are required to represent. It appears that if there is a way the Board can prevent a Member from attending an “open” Board meeting, they will.