Wednesday's Valley News Dispatch had an editorial criticizing the Tarentum Borough Council for the illegal use of executive session on April 17 (discussed here and here on this blog). The editorial points a finger of blame at the borough solicitor saying he "should have at least asked Newcomer why the session was needed before it started."
I don't see why the borough solicitor should have the responsibility of policing the meetings of the Council. If someone knows of such a responsibility in his job description, perhaps they can identify it to me.
Many people could have asked such a question. A member of the public, such as myself, could have asked. The press could have asked. Any member of the council, including its president, could have asked. The fact that the solicitor was the lawyer in the room does not in itself make him responsible for cross-examining the members of the council that employs him.
I would not be surprised if the borough solicitor heard the statement that the private meeting was for a "personal matter" as a denial that any borough business would be discussed. That was how I heard it. Then I was surprised later by the news that there had been an unrevealed purpose for the executive session. If no borough business had been discussed, the state Sunshine Act would not have had any application at all to the private meeting.
The public was misled. The responsibility rests with those who asked for the executive session without revealing to the public what they intended to discuss in private.
The Valley News Dispatch did not post this editorial on their website. While I was on vacation a friend emailed me a scan of the editorial, which I was not able to post to my blog at that time because of the lack of software I knew how to use. Although I take issue with one point in the editorial, it is well worth reading. Click the thumbnail image of the scanned editorial to see a readable version.