The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive

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FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-15

A local governing body may not convene a closed meeting in order to discuss the salaries of the members pursuant to the personnel closed meeting exemption.

FOi Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-15

Meeting minutes must include a summary of the discussion on matters proposed, deliberated or decided, and a record of any votes taken. A verbatim transcript is not required. A public body has the discretion to include specific comments made at the meeting or not so long as the minutes include the required summary and record of votes.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-13

A committee or advisory group of a public body that performs a delegated function or advises the public body is itself a public body. A committee or advisory group created by an individual to advise that individual is not a public body. In either case, however, records prepared, owned, or possessed by the committee or advisory group in the transaction of public business are public records subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-13

A committee that was created by action of a city council, but does not advise the city council or perform a delegated function of the city council, is not a public body subject to FOIA for meetings purposes. However, records of such a committee that are in the transaction of public business are public records subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-13

FOIA is silent regarding the logistics of holding a public meeting. In a situation where the meeting room lacks the capacity to accommodate all those who wish to attend, the best practice is to move to a larger venue and use technology to increase public access, when possible.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-12

Subsection F of § 2.2-3707 requires that agenda packets be made available for public inspection at the same time they are furnished to members of the public body

Hill v. Fairfax County School Board

The Supreme Court of Virginia rules that the rapid and extensive exchange of emails leading up to a meeting is not itself a meeting triggering FOIA's requirements.

Attorney General Opinion 12-9-11

AG reviews 4th Circuit opinions that place limits on when and how sectarian prayers can be invoked at public meetings.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-11

A rescue squad which is a town department is subject to FOIA for records purposes, but is not subject to the open meetings requirements of FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-10

FOIA provides exemptions from mandatory disclosure for certain records related to closed meetings. However, FOIA does not address whether a mayor may demand that at the conclusion of a closed meeting members of a local governing body give to the mayor any documents distributed or notes taken during the closed meeting.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-10

A motion to convene a closed meeting must identify the subject of the meeting, the purpose of the meeting, and cite an applicable exemption from the open meeting requirements. In order to avoid confusion and misunderstanding, the preferred practice is to make a separate motion for each topic that will come under consideration during a closed meeting.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-13-09

A motion to convene a closed meeting must identify the subject of the meeting, state its purpose, and provide a reference to an applicable exemption. Quoting or paraphrasing a statutory exemption states the purpose of the meeting, but does not identify the subject. FOIA places the duty to identify the subject of a closed meeting upon the public body holding the meeting, not its attorney.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-09

Though generally local public bodies may not meet or cast votes by electronic means, a telephone conversation between an administrator and a single member of a public body is not a meeting subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-09

Boards of equalization are public bodies and are required to keep minutes of their meetings. Even before law takes effect July 1, 2009, minutes should be in writing. Audio recordings cannot be a substitute. Votes must be recorded, though those who vote need not be identified.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-09

Section 15.2-2907 says that certain meetings that are or would be subject to review by the Commission on Local Government -- like consolidation and annexation discussions -- are not subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-09

A task force jointly created by multiple public bodies to advise them is itself a public body subject to FOIA. Likewise, a regional public body provided for by statute and established by the resolutions of several local public bodies is also subject to FOIA. Both must comply with the procedural rules for conducting public meetings.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-12-08

As a general rule, an individual member of a board, designated as a liaison to staff, is not a public body for meetings purposes. Records prepared, owned, or possessed by that member in the transaction of public business are public records subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-08

Advisory committees formed by Richmond Mayor Douglas Wilder are not subject to FOIA. FOIA applies to committees formed by public bodies to perform a delegated function or provide advice to the public body. The mayor, however, is not a public body.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-08

FOIA does not require a public body to provide records, or portions thereof, that are not responsive to a request. Implementing a universal security policy requiring all visitors to present identification before entering a public building does not inherently exclude the public from attending public meetings which may be held therein.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-08

A public body may convene a closed meeting to discuss the formation and award of a procurement contract.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-13-07

FOIA allows public bodies to hold closed meetings to discuss the acquisition of real property if holding the discussion in an open meeting would adversely affect the bargaining position or negotiating strategy of the public body. Absent such jeopardy to the public body's bargaining position or negotiating strategy, these discussions must be open.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-07

Determining whether an entity is a public body as a committee, subcommittee, or other entity however designated of a public body depends on how the entity was formed and what functions it performs.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-07

FOIA requires public notice to be given when a public body holds a public meeting. Failure to give the required notice is a violation of FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-07

Meetings must be noticed for the time when they actually begin. A public body must approve by vote in an open meeting a motion to convene a closed meeting, and must certify the closed meeting after reconvening in open session. The motion and certification must be included in the meeting minutes, along with records of the votes taken to approve the motion and certification.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-07

The student government of a public institution of higher education is a public body subject to FOIA. The branches of student government are analogous to the organization of government generally (i.e., legislative, executive, and judicial). (Several other related issues discussed.)

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