Posts Tagged ‘Schwartzkopf’

Is the Legislature already gambling with open meetings?

April 16, 2009

IN MARCH, the House passed a bill that allows the public to access General Assembly meetings – except for those held in caucus. While the measure sits in a Senate committee, House lawmakers already met behind closed doors on April 7 for a House Gaming and Parimutuels Committee meeting, led by Chairman John Viola, D-Newark. House Majority Leader Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, attended this meeting but later said he should’ve used better judgment. He said he thought the meeting was just Dems only.

He said only after he entered the closed-door session did he realize the meeting consisted of Republicans and Democrats – clearly not just one caucus.

He also said he if he hadn’t met with members of the gaming committee, they would have tabled voting on releasing a substitute gaming measure.

“When Viola called for a 5-minute recess I didn’t know what he was doing. It probably shouldn’t have been done. Nobody knew what Viola was doing. If I would not have agreed to meet them, they probably would’ve tabled the committee,” said Schwartzkopf. Instead, the gaming committee released the substitute measure on a 5-4 vote.

Speaker of the House Bob Gilligan, D-Wilmington, said he wouldn’t suspend Viola for not abiding by House rules. Said Schwartzkopf, “Lesson learned. It looked bad. I wouldn’t do it again.”

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