Animal lovers upset after MAS closes monthly meetings - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Animal lovers upset after Memphis Animal Services closes monthly meetings

(WMC-TV) - Animal lovers said Friday they were worried after the Memphis Animal Services Advisory Board closed its monthly meetings to the public.

"The city taxpayers support the Memphis Animal Shelter," said animal lover Sylvia Cox.  "They have a right to know what's going on."

The five-member, city appointed advisory board plans to hold quarterly public meetings, but will meet monthly in private.

Advisory Board Chairman, Dr. Stephen Tower, told Action News 5 the advisory board is not subject to the Sunshine Law which forces public entities to open all of their meetings to the public.

"Because it's advisory in nature," said Tower.

Cox said the board is subject to the state open meetings law because it is a body of the local government of the city of Memphis and any entity created by and overseen by the city is of the city and therefore government.

"Even if you're not making decisions, they're discussing city business," said Cox.  "That city business is with regard to the Memphis Animal Services, which is an entity that is managed by the city."

However, City of Memphis Attorney Herman Morris said the meetings held by the Memphis Animal Shelter Advisory Board are not considered a "meeting" by a "governing" body as defined by the Open Meetings Act; therefore, the option to open or close such meetings to the public can be left up to the administration.

"They are to make recommendations to the Director of Public Services for the City of Memphis or the Director or Administrator of the Memphis Animal Shelter, and again neither of those individuals is a government body," said Morris.

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