Leadville newspaper sues county commission over executive session

From the (Leadville) Herald Democrat:  By Danny Ramey Herald Staff Writer

The Herald Democrat has filed suit against the Lake County Board of County Commissioners over what was described by them as an emergency executive session in February.

In its suit, the Herald argues that the executive session violated the Colorado Open Records Act and Colorado Open Meetings Law because the meeting was not properly noticed and the process for convening an executive session was not properly followed.

Additionally, the suit argues that because the meeting was not properly noticed, the tapes are a matter of public record.

Ashley Kissinger, the Herald’s attorney, filed the suit in district court on Friday.

The suit asks for the tapes from that executive session and coverage of the newspaper’s attorney’s fees.

The executive session in question began on February 19. According to the minutes of the session, it was continued the next morning. Several days after the meeting occurred, the Herald received a call from a citizen concerned that the commissioners had held an unposted meeting.

No notice of the executive session was given prior to it occurring. Additionally, a regular meeting of the commissioners occurred in between the two parts of the executive session, but the session was not mentioned at that meeting.

The Herald believes the executive session concerned the resignation of Tommy Taylor, the former director of the Lake County Building and Land Use Department.

Taylor submitted his resignation on Feb. 20. He was arrested in July on drug charges.

In an interview with the Herald in early March, Commission Chair Mike Bordogna said the executive session was proper because it was held on an emergency basis

The commissioners did give notice that the executive session had occurred at their next regular meeting on March 4. They also approved the minutes of the executive session at their March 18 meeting.

Since the executive session occurred, the Herald has asked for the tapes of that meeting multiple times. Each time, the county denied the request.

In denying the requests for the tapes, the commissioners offered several reasons, including that the meeting involved “day-to-day supervision of employees” and that the meeting was to discuss personnel issues, which are not subject to the open records law.


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