Violation of the Open Meetings Law by Previous Council on November 6, 2007 as Seen by Carol Brzeczek

On October 30, 2007 former council convened into an Executive Session to evaluate the City Manager.  This was all done in accordance with the law.

 

However, the law states that an executive session may be held except that no adoption of any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, regulation, or formal action, except the review, approval and amendment of the minutes of an executive session. (24-6-204 (2) (II) (B)

 

On November 2, I emailed a former council member and asked if the City Manager received a raise and I was told that the information had not been released publicly by Mr. Taylor and therefore it was privileged information.  (If there was no decision made then there would not have been any information to release.)

 

On November 6th the Council, during Jim Taylor’s report, approved on a 6/1 vote a 3% increase for the City Manager without a word of discussion.  (This from a council that couldn’t decide to take a bathroom break without a 30 minutes discussion – I exaggerate but you get the point I hope.)

 

I then emailed another former council member and was told that the subject of the City Manager’s raise was discussed extensively among council members during the executive session and then ratified in the open meeting.  There wasn’t further discussion as it had been covered previously with council members and with the City Manager and wasn’t necessary.

 

In looking back over the past two years it appears that the council has always acted this way.  The public payroll records show that Mr. Woods and Mr. Berkowitz have both received increases for the past two years but the public records do not reflect any action taken to increase their salaries.  This is a violation of the Open Meetings Law and the law states that any action taken in violation of the law is void!

 

Furthermore, in Bagby v School District No. 1 the Court held that the mere rubber stamping of a decision that was made in an executive session is prohibited.  In the instance of Mr. Woods’ salary increase the former Council rubber-stamped a previously made decision.

 

The Court has also stated that “public meetings laws are interpreted broadly to further the legislative intent that citizens be given a greater opportunity to become fully informed on issues of public importance so that meaningful participation in the decision-making process may be achieved: Cole v. State, 673 P.2d 345 (Colo. 1983).”

I have asked the current council to release the tapes of the portion of the executive session (where they discussed and determined Mr. Woods’ increase) to be made public.  If it is not made public I am prepared to file in Court to have an in-camera review of the record.  If the Court agrees with me the Court will release the record.

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