Utah Attorney General’s office says Orem City Council did not improperly close council meetings

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The City of Orem released a statement on Oct. 26 regarding the Orem City Council meeting livestream from Sept. 27 and Oct. 11.

The City of Orem statement said, “Tthe Utah Attorney General’s office has reviewed complaints about the discontinuance of the livestream and found that the meetings were not ‘improperly closed because the in-person meeting continued with the public still in the room.’” 

Some council members and citizens expressed concern when the city council turned off the livestream for the last portion of the meeting. The city attorney had counseled the city to stop the livestream in order to avoid a potential violation of Utah Code Section 20A-11-1203.

The City of Orem posted an excerpt from a press release on Facebook Wednesday, October 26. They said they were in full compliance with Utah law at their recent council meetings. (Photo courtesy of City of Orem Government’s Facebook)

“The city attorney didn’t do anything wrong,” said Richard Piatt, director of communications for the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Piatt said the meeting was still open to the public, but was not available to view on the streaming platform. He said if someone is concerned about what happened, the city can provide a transcript or recording of the full meeting. 

According to Piatt, the city attorney was complying with the election law. However, Piatt also said that there is some gray area with the open meetings law. 

“The law addresses people’s access in person but doesn’t address the idea of streaming,” Piatt said, referring to legislature surrounding open meetings. 

Piatt said the attorney general’s office gave the Orem City Council a refresher on the open meetings law and the council understood. 

“Our position is openness,” Piatt said. When asked what he would recommend for city council in the future, Piatt said he would probably lean towards allowing the meetings to be streamed.

The City of Orem said it will continue to make sure that their actions are in compliance with the law.

“The City’s actions were in full compliance with the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act and were done in an effort to comply with the law and not to skirt it,” it said in its press release.

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