From: Freeman, Robert (DOS) 
Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 8:34 AM
Subject: RE: For your consideration

Good morning - -

First, the Board in my view clearly constitutes a “public body” subject to the Open Meetings Law.  Second, it is assumed that §633 of the Executive Law requiring that records and proceedings of the Board regarding claims be confidential would remain in effect.  If that is so, the proceedings of the Board concerning particular claims would be exempt from the coverage of the Open Meetings Law.  Section 108 of that statute pertains to “exemptions”, and if an exemption applies, the Open Meetings Law does not; it is as though the Open Meetings Law does not exist.  Subdivision (3) of §108 pertains to matters made confidential by federal or state law.  Based on §633, the Board’s proceedings regarding particular claims would be confidential by law and, therefore, exempt from the requirements of the Open Meetings Law.

If the only business of the Board involves proceedings regarding claims, there would be no requirement to give notice; again, the Open Meetings Law simply would not apply.  If, however, other business would be conducted, i.e., discussions of policy, procedure, development of a report regarding its functions, etc., those items would not involve confidential matters, and the requirements of the Open Meetings Law would be applicable.

I hope that the foregoing will be of value.  If I have misinterpreted or made mistaken assumptions, please let me know.  If you would like to discuss the issue, please feel free to call.

Best to all,

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
Phone: (518)474-2518
Fax: (518)474-1927