MO Attorney General Comments on City-County Merger Talks
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Should the ongoing meetings between St. Louis City and County officials about how to merge some operations get more public scrutiny?
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, whose office enforces the state Sunshine Law, says the answer is not clear.
For meetings that come under Sunshine, organizers must post advance public notice — an agenda with information on who’s meeting and why.
Earlier this week, the President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed complained that the city-county merger talks are “too secretive” and that he was getting no prior notice of discussions underway to blend economic development, health departments and construction permitting.
Koster’s office issued a statement saying there’s no clear indication whether the city county merger meetings between staff members of Mayor Slay and County Executive Dooley come under the Sunshine Law.
If those attending were “appointed” to a committee, then it would come under Sunshine, Koster’s office says, but the statement adds:
“We are not aware of the term having been defined by a Missouri court in the context of the Sunshine law. So, it isn’t clear what constitutes appointment to a committee, versus employees doing research, etc, as part of their regular jobs.”
Mayor Slay characterizes the meetings so far as in the “very early stages.”
“Anything that happens would need Board of Aldermen approval,” Slay said, “And nobody’s even brought to me any ideas on how this is going to be done. It’s mostly a staff thing.”