Grand Junction broke law by failing to record city council’s executive session

From The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction):  The city of Grand Junction violated state law by failing to record a two-hour executive session last month when City Council members discussed City Manager Rich Englehart’s possible resignation and severance package.

City Attorney John Shaver told city councilors at the end of a meeting late Wednesday night that a compact disc of the June 20 executive session contains an introduction but no recording of the closed-door meeting. Acting on Shaver’s advice, councilors decided to hold a special meeting Monday to publicly discuss why they accepted Englehart’s resignation and paid him severance.

Asked Thursday why there was no recording, Shaver told The Daily Sentinel, “We don’t know for sure. There could have been equipment problems, there could have been protocol problems at the end of the recording. What we do know is the meeting wasn’t captured on the disc despite having taken steps to do so.”

Asked if someone in the meeting could have accidentally or intentionally shut off the recording, Shaver responded, “In human systems there’s always opportunity for human failures. It would be irresponsible for me to speculate. What I can tell you is that it didn’t get recorded. It isn’t on the disc. Our goal is to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The executive session included six of the seven council members, Englehart, Shaver and city Human Resources Director Claudia Hazelhurst. Councilor Bennett Boeschenstein attended the meeting by phone.

Four days after the meeting, which was held in an upstairs conference room at City Hall, the council, without any discussion or debate, voted unanimously to accept Englehart’s resignation and amend his employment agreement to give him more than $127,000 in severance, an amount equal to nine months’ salary. He also received more than $25,000 in unpaid time off. Englehart’s contract had originally called for him to receive severance only if he were terminated.

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