Messenger: St. Louis County Needs Sunshine Law Course Correction | Tony Messenger


Post-Dispatch columnists Aisha Sultan and Tony Messenger debate campaign finance reform and school consolidation.



In response to Orwick’s letter, Councilor Tim Fitch, a Republican, accused Orwick of attempting to cover up County Executive Sam Page, a Democrat, who was a friend and ally of Tucker. Page was the chairman of the board when Tucker was hired. Orwick was appointed to her post by Page.

Whether Orwick covers Page or not, she got the law wrong, according to a local expert in state sunshine law. The law does not require that meetings or documents be closed, it allows it. A county ordinance passed in 2011, however, changed the presumption of openness in state law, requiring the closure of certain county documents and meetings. This order is invalid, says Clayton’s attorney, Mark Pedroli, founder of the Sunshine and Government Accountability Project.

“In no universe can St. Louis County change the literal wording of Sunshine Law, via a local ordinance, then claim that the local ordinance trumps state law, trumps state law. state legislative framework and overrides the intention of the state legislature, ”said Pedroli. . “As the Supreme Court has ruled on several occasions, local governments cannot pass ordinances in direct conflict with state law. The county ordinance, upon which the county councilor’s office relies, is clearly void and preempted by state law.

Orwick says she has no opinion as to whether the county ordinance on Sunshine Law complies with state law, but that her job is to interpret the law as it is written. and advise the board accordingly.


Nancy I. Romero

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