Judge rules primarily in favor of Basalt in resident’s lawsuit over open meetings

The Aspen Times: A judge ruled Tuesday that the town of Basalt isn’t conducting business improperly in secret sessions nor did Mayor Jacque Whitsitt violate the Colorado Open Records Act by erasing a text message the judge deemed “transitory.”

Eagle County District Judge Russell Granger ruled that the Town Council wasn’t unlawfully setting policy or improperly expanding discussions, but he sided with plaintiff Ted Guy in what Granger labeled a “hyper-technical ruling.”

Guy, who claimed to be representing unnamed “concerned citizens of Basalt,” filed a lawsuit that challenged the propriety of four executive sessions held between April and August. The lawsuit contended they were illegal executive sessions because they weren’t properly noticed. The lawsuit filed on Guy’s behalf by attorney Steven Zansberg of Denver said the town is required to give as much detail as possible about the subjects without comprising the need to hold an executive session.

The sessions should be considered public meetings since they were improperly noticed and the town should be required to hand over any recordings of the proceedings, Guy contended. Questions also were raised during a Dec. 8 hearing about if the Town Council used the sessions to set policy or make decisions on issues that weren’t noticed.

Granger reviewed the notices and listened to recordings of the meetings when possible. He found that the council properly held executive sessions when there was attorney-client privilege and when personnel matters were discussed involving former Town Manager Mike Scanlon.

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