WKBN Disputes Meeting Closure

Anthony Farris
Youngstown Law Director Anthony Farris.

Youngstown’s Law Director defended the decision to bar reporters from covering a meeting between city council and Cardinal Mooney High School after a WKBN attorney argued the decision violated Ohio’s open meetings laws.

Anthony Farris on Tuesday said Mooney’s board of directors invited council members to the session so the two sides could discuss the school’s possible move from the city to southern Mahoning County.

Farris said even though a majority of councilmembers were at the meeting, the meeting could be behind closed doors.

Lin Media Senior Counsel Joshua Pila wrote Council President Jamael Tito Brown a letter Monday demanding an apology and the minutes of the meeting.

“‘Meeting’ is defined as the public, prearranged discussion of the public business of the public body,” Farris said. “That in the case of Youngstown City Council would entail legislation or the discussion of legislation. That was not the purpose of the meeting.”

Farris said no official action was taken at the meeting.

Pila contended in his letter the meeting should have been open to the media because a majority of council was present and it was a prearranged meeting.

“If we do not receive a full, satisfactory response our demand by noon Wednesday, we will intend to pursue all options we deem necessary,” Pila wrote. “This company takes sunshine laws very seriously, as I’m sure you can tell by the fact that I write you this correspondence at 9 p.m. in the evening.”

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