As mentioned in past Ninja Journalism posts, every AP Stylebook has a section in the back on the Open Meeting Act. Read it. This is a lethal weapon in the hands of a determined journalist prying information from shady bureaucrats, town officials, and anybody trying to hide information behind their titles.
Last week in the small town of Shady Shores, Texas near where I live, town council members began making derogatory remarks about citizens involved in the first item of business for the evening. The town secretary was told to stop the tape meeting recorder, rewind and start over. She refused and after being demanded to do so she stood up and left the meeting.
The recording was later erased by someone else and the secretary was fired for derelict of duty.
However, it did not cross the minds of the town big shots that they were in violation of the Open Meeting Act and the secretary, Sarah Swanson, my new hero, is suing the town.
Read Diana Hunt's story here in the Denton Record-Chronicle.
I learned from experience that the smaller the town, the more the politicians, town councils and county commissions believe they can get away with. When you screw people over in a small community, maybe 100 people will even care and about five of them enough to try to do something about it. When you do that in Dallas and you can multiply those numbers by a thousand.