The Commercial Appeal reports today that two residents have filed an open meetings lawsuit against the Memphis City Council, alleging that a vote on a resolution that allowed Memphis Zoo overflow parking in Overton Park was orchestrated in advance through deliberations outside the public eye.
See Commerical Appeal story: Lawsuit alleges Memphis City Council violated Open Meetings Act regarding March 1 greensward vote
Bryce Ashby, attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Commercial Appeal: “It’s important to understand that this lawsuit, while involving Overton Park, is about a bigger issue. This is about transparency in government and the right of the public to have notice of the actions that are to be taken by our city government. While the March 1st resolution involved Overton Park, the way in which it was done if repeated could result in us waking up one day with privatized sanitation services, with further cuts in the pensions of police and firefighters, or with less funding for public schools. The public has a right to reasonable notice of city council action so that the public has the ability to make itself heard and so that the city council can take into account the desires of the larger public.”
The plaintiffs are residents Susan Lacy and Stephen Humbert, both of whom use the park, Ashby said.
The city’s attorney, Allan Wade, said there was never a meeting of two or more members to deliberate toward a decision, which would violate the state’s Sunshine Law.
The residents allege, however, that the council acted in “an effort to avoid public scrutiny,” according to the story.