Council President Carole Smitherman said that five people were in the office of Councilor Maxine Parker. She said that they had been discussing "city politics" and said that no city business had been discussed.
The meeting occurred at the same time the council administrator and city clerk took up copies of a addendum item to the agenda. That item proposed to pay $15,000 to cater the funeral of Councilor Miriam Witherspoon who died on Tuesday.
Subsequently a new agenda was distributed which did not include the $15,000 item.
With a few specific statutory exemptions, Alabama Open Meetings Law prohibits public officials from meeting in secret or in private.
Councilors Smitherman, Parker, Roderick Royal, Steven Hoyt and Johnathan Austin were in Parker's office for the meeting.
When Royal emerged from the secret meeting he complained to the council staff that a Birmingham Weekly reporter had been allowed into the council offices where they could be observed. When asked how many councilors had been in the closed-door meeting, Royal did not answer and instead continued to ask council staff why the reporter had been allowed past.