(Cleveland, OH) – In response to the article released by Cleveland.com earlier this week, The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has released a statement to address the recent inquiries regarding it's ban of the public from attending in-person Board Meetings.
The statement reads:
- The Ohio Open Meetings Act requires public meetings to be “open” and does not explicitly require the “public” to physically attend meetings.
- The law requires members of a public body to “be present in person at a meeting open to the public.” The members of RTA’s Board of Trustees were present, in person, at the July 27, 2021 board meeting and the meeting was open to the public via live stream on Facebook. There is no law that says streaming cannot take the place of physical attendance.
- There is precedent in Ohio law allowing a public body to provide for members of the “public” who exceed the capacity of the meeting space to attend the meeting in a separate room via close caption television. RTA believes that providing for the “public” to attend via live stream is also permissible under Ohio law. RTA exceeds the law’s requirements by allowing the public to make comments via telephone and e-mail.
- While the “public” has traditionally attended public meetings physically, COVID presents a unique situation.
- Current CDC guidance recommends continuing to avoid large events and gatherings. Furthermore, the size of an event should be determined based on whether attendees from different households can stay at least 6 feet apart.
- RTA’s Engineering Department has calculated that, with safe distance requirements, the capacity of the Board Room is limited to 44 people. With the full Board of Trustees, staff and presenters, RTA could have 40 or more people at a meeting.
- RTA’s most vulnerable customers – ADA clients obtaining certification for Paratransit service also share the area where the Board Room is located.
- COVID case numbers are increasing in Cuyahoga County.
- RTA is exploring alternative options that would allow the “public” to physically attend Board meetings.
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority will be exploring alternate options that would allow public to attend Board Meetings.
(Copyright, iHeartMedia 2021)