2. Section 551.072. Deliberations about Real Property
Section 551.072 authorizes a governmental body to deliberate in executive session on certain matters concerning real property. It provides as follows:
A governmental body may conduct a closed meeting to deliberate the purchase, exchange, lease, or value of real property if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person.
For TIRZ 12, the City was negotiating with the Public Service Board. Discussion in public would not have had a detrimental effect on the position of the City with a third person.
Section 551.072 permits an executive session only where public discussion of the subject would have a detrimental effect on the governmental body’s negotiating position with respect to a third party. Where a court found that open discussion would not be detrimental to a city’s negotiations, a closed session under this provision was not permitted. It does not allow a governmental body to “cut a deal in private, devoid of public input or debate.” A governmental body’s discussion of nonmonetary attributes of property to be purchased that relate to the property’s value may fall within this exception if deliberating in open session would detrimentally affect subsequent negotiations.
Let me reiterate: “It does not allow a governmental body to ‘cut a deal in private, devoid of public input or debate.’”
Well, that deal for TIRZ 12 is already in the pipes, devoid of public input or debate. This, like so many of the other violations of the Open Meetings Act practiced by the City, looks like a textbook example of what the City’s not supposed to do.
Welcome to Rancho El Paso, where the laws don’t apply to the hacendados.