A Charlotte attorney filed a motion in Mecklenburg County Superior Court accusing City Council members of violating the N.C. Open Meetings Law.
That law says all public bodies, including city councils, are required to conduct public business "openly."
A group of former journalists, however, say that didn't happen when the city began negotiating with the Carolina Panthers over using tax money to help the team with stadium renovations.
Twice, on January 14th and again on February 8th, the City Council met in closed session with Panthers management. During those negotiations, the contempt motion filed today says, City Council members discussed the possibility of raising taxes to help the team pay for the renovations.
"The City Council should take those actions in public where the people can see what's going on and where the people can have influence," said Mike Cozza, one of those taking the city to court.
The state does provide exceptions that allow closed sessions. One of them is for a public body to discuss economic development incentives.
That's what the city attorney says council members were doing during the meetings in question. "I remain confident that the Charlotte City Council was well within its rights in discussing potential incentives," Bob Hagemann said.
City Councilman Andy Dulin admits the City was secretive during the talks with the Panthers, but he doesn't believe any laws were broken.
"Everything's out in the open now and so it got to where it needed to be. But that first conversation we had, I was comfortable having it behind closed doors," Dulin said.
But those bringing the lawsuit believe the law is on their side. Said Wayne Powers, "We're going to open up local government if it's the last thing I do."
The case will now be heard by a Mecklenburg County Superior Court Judge.