Mayfield Heights City Council met secretly to plan Mayfield Road redevelopment, refuses to release documents

From The Plain Dealer Mayfield Heights City Council met secretly for months to discuss redeveloping Mayfield Road. Days before council was set to vote on Phase 2 of the plan, the city refused to release documents detailing its strategy.

According to councilman Donald Manno, the engineering firm URS Corp. and developer Coral Co. led four sessions with a host of public officials, including Mayor Anthony DiCicco, the city's human resources director, finance director, service director, parks and recreation director, Council President Gayle Teresi and council members Joe Mercurio, Susan Sabetta, Bob DeJohn and Nino Monaco.

Ohio open meetings laws require any board, commission, council or other public decision-making body to notify the public and open the meeting whenever there is a prearranged gathering of the majority of its members to discuss public business.  Officials also must take attendance and record minutes.

The meetings were closed, and the city never distributed public notices.

Manno said he didn't know why the sessions were private. Law Director Paul Murphy said they didn't have to be open, because they were not meetings of council.

"It was just an informal meeting with the mayor. It wasn't a public meeting," Murphy said. "If they happen to come to a meeting, and there happen to be four of them here, it is not a public meeting of council."

But Catherine Turcer, policy analyst for Common Cause Ohio, said any time the majority of the members of a public body meet and deliberate, they must abide by Sunshine Laws.

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