Meeting? What Meeting?
Was There A Meeting?
Laurens County Council was scheduled to have a called, electronic meeting today, but there’s no evidence of it. The County website has an agenda and a packet, but no approved minutes. The council can’t approve a set of minutes from one meeting until it has another meeting.
The website says the April 14 & 28 meetings are still on, but that’s doubtful -- South Carolina has 342 cases of the COVID-19 virus, which has killed 5 people in this state, and schools are closed through April. The only proven precaution against this potentially deadly disease is staying away from each other.
The council has passed a resolution allowing it to meet by telephone - lots of others have, too, and it’s mostly boilerplate language. This is what it says, in part (what the council was scheduled to do today is in PDF form at the end of this article):
“Standards for Electronic Meetings. The Governing Body is hereby authorized to conduct public meetings exclusively in electronic form, provided the medium for such meeting, whether telephonic, broadcast video, computer-based, or other electronic media, or any combination of these, and the conduct of the electronic meeting, allows for the following standards and practices to be met:
“(a) At the beginning of any electronic meeting, the presiding officer shall poll the members of the Governing Body to confirm attendance, and any member of the Governing Body attending by way of electronic media shall be considered present for the purposes of constituting a quorum.
“(b) Throughout the duration of the electronic meeting, all members of the Governing Body, as well as any officials or staff required to speak at such meeting, must have the capability to be heard at all times by any other member of the governing body and by the general public.
“(c) Any vote of the Governing Body must be conducted by individual voice vote of the members of the Governing Body, who shall verbally indicate their vote on any matter by stating “yay” or “nay.” All individual votes shall be recorded by the clerk, secretary, or presiding officers, as appropriate.
“(d) Meetings shall be recorded or minutes kept in the same manner as an in-person meeting as required by the Act.
“(e) All members of the governing body, officials, staff, and presenters should identify themselves and be recognized prior to speaking. Members of the Governing Body shall strictly comply with the rules of the Governing Body as they relate to procedural matters in order to preserve order and allow for the effectiveness of electronic meetings.
“ (f) Electronic executive sessions shall be permitted in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the Governing Body shall properly announce its reason for going into any executive session in conformance with Section 30-4-70 of the Act. Upon the entry into any electronic executive session, meeting minutes need not be kept and the electronic meeting utilized for such executive session may be held by (i) a separate telephonic, broadcast video, computer-based, or other electronic media, or any combination of these wherein the public shall not be permitted to participate, or (ii) on the initial telephonic, broadcast video, computer-based, or other electronic media, or any combination of these, with the implementation of necessary participation or listening restrictions, provided that in either instance all members of the Governing Body must have the capability to be heard at all times.
“(g) With respect to any electronic meeting, any public comment periods provided for by local ordinance, resolution, policy, or bylaws are hereby suspended. Members of the public may submit written public comments which shall be distributed to the members of the Governing Body.”