Local News

Raleigh Councilmen Face Another Lawsuit

Posted January 28, 1997

— Four Raleigh City Council members and Mayor Tom Fetzer face a second lawsuit for allegedly violating the state's Open Meetings Law.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Capitol Broadcasting Co. (which owns WRAL-TV5), The News & Observer, the North Carolina Press Association, the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, and other local TV stations filed the suit. It claims the five men broke the law when they discussed a proposed arena while watching a basketball game at one of the council member's house.

Fetzer and council members say the conversation was personal and did not include talk of arena financing.

On Monday, former City Council member Geoff Elting filed a similar lawsuit against the mayor and city council members. Both suits seek a court order prohibiting similar meetings in the future. The suits also ask the defendants to be ordered to pay legal costs.

North Carolina's Open Meetings Law prohibits secret or closed meetings by public bodies, except under very specific circumstances. Under the law, it is illegal for a majority of a public body to meet to discuss public business unless the body gives 48 hours' written notice, opens the meeting to the public and keeps minutes of its actions.

Council members named in the suit, in addition to Fetzer, were Paul Coble, John Odom, Marc Scruggs Jr. and Kieran Shanahan.

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