"There were no decisions made," Nutter said. "This was a general discussion, which we're allowed to have."
The state Sunshine Act says that official action or deliberation by a government agency must take place in an open meeting if a quorum of the agency's members attends. Nine members of Council equal a quorum. More than nine members were present yesterday.
Nutter and Smith said that the closed-door meeting was permissible because they were having a discussion, not an "official deliberation."
But Teri Henning, general counsel of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, disagreed. She said that all the talks that precede a decision should be considered public deliberation.
"They're suggesting that they did not deliberate," Henning said. "Deliberation is defined broadly in the act as any discussion leading up to a decision."
Nutter is planning to release a financial plan next Thursday to reduce the $841 million funding shortfall expected over the next five years. Council will have to approve his modified five-year spending plan.
To read the city solicitor's opinion, go to: http://go.philly.com/sunshine