Been wondering how Cobb County managed to approve its Atlanta Braves stadium deal just two weeks after it was announced, without holding any public meetings to discuss it? The answer, according to Atlanta Magazine, is by violating open meetings laws:
Commissioners’ November 26 approval of the Braves deal came just 18 days after their first top-secret briefing on November 8. Commissioners gathered again privately on November 13—two days after the public announcement of the team’s relocation—to kick around the details, even as some Cobb residents pushed for a closer look at the deal’s fine print and for more time to consider its terms.
At both the November 8 and November 13 meetings, the five commissioners used a “revolving door” format so only two of them would be in the room at once. No quorum existed that way, officials contend, so open-meetings requirements did not apply.
Having three members of the commission hide in the hallway at any given time is called a “rolling quorum,” and is an unacceptable way of evading open-meetings laws, Georgia First Amendment Foundation director Hollie Manheimer tells the magazine. It looks like the worst that could happen under the letter of the law would be for the commissioners to be convicted of misdemeanors and fined $1,000 apiece, though it’s also possible for a court to grant an injunction “or other equitable relief.” Tea Party lawyers, you listening?
The Atlanta Magazine piece also confirms that the Braves’ proposed development to surround the new stadium, which is ostensibly the whole reason why this project makes any sense at all for Cobb County, may never be built, as the memorandum of understanding “contains no deadline for the team to complete an adjacent $400 million retail/entertainment district.” Maybe that will be included in the Stadium Operating Agreement that hasn’t been worked out yet, and which, come to think of it, Cobb County has been awfully quiet about since voting to give the project preliminary approval back in November. I’m sure they’ll tell us all about it, once they’re done taking turns standing in the hall.