During Thursday night’s regular session of the Clarksville City Council, members voted to ask the state to make the Sunshine laws not apply to the body and city government, with multiple council members stating the law, which states all things done on behalf of the public must be done within the light of the public, gets in their way of being collaborative and having private conversations.
The amendment’s sponsor, Wallace Redd, says he feels the local council body should simply be following the same rules as the state legislature, which he says has less restrictive sunshine laws and more restrictions on public records and communications between council members on matters of public interest.
An amendment, proposed by controversial council member Wallace Redd, asks the state to “allow local governments to fall under the same ‘Sunshine laws’ and rules that the state legislature follows.” While council person Brian Zacharias noted that the amendment should be that the state legislature follows the more open rules that local governments follow, Redd did not change the direction the amendment flowed and opined that local governments should not have to follow the current state Sunshine laws, which requires all conversations, decisions, and communications to be open to the public.
No matter Redd’s original intention, other council members quickly opined their feelings on the current sunshine law. Outspoken Council Member Karen Reynolds says she believes the “sunshine law as written stifles communication and collaboration.” Council Member Wanda Smith inquired how this would impact the ethics codes, with Redd replying that if it became law, violations of it would no longer be unethical. Council Member Wanda Allen says she agreed with the amendment and reiterated that current ethics violations would no longer be against the law if this became the new law.
The amendment passed 8-4-0, and will be included on this year’s legislative agenda – which will be presented to the state legislature as a list of the top items impacting Clarksville that the city wants the state to assist with. Voting yes: Zacharias, McLaughlin, Little, Redd, Marquis, Allen, Reynolds, Shakeenab. Voting no: Smith, Holleman, Streetman, Lovato.