Littleton to ask voters to restore executive sessions

Littleton Independent: Five years after a citizen initiative restricting city council’s ability to hold closed-door meetings passed by a landslide, council will ask voters in November: How about now?

City council passed an ordinance at the Aug. 7 meeting to ask voters in November to amend the city’s strict executive session law. Only Councilmember Carol Fey voted against the ordinance. Councilmember Jerry Valdes was absent.

The current law, approved by nearly three-quarters of voters in 2013, limits the reasons council can hold an executive session — a closed-door meeting — to “matters required to be kept confidential by Federal and State laws” or to “confer with an attorney regarding a legal action already filed in a court of law.”

The amendments, if passed by voters, would allow council to hold executive sessions to confer with an attorney on specifically defined topics, or to discuss security arrangements, real estate dealings and personnel matters.

Open door policy

The ordinance, introduced by councilmembers Valdes and Patrick Driscoll, was initially brought to council by Mayor Debbie Brinkman.

“I think the omission of the privilege of executive sessions has been detrimental to council on a number of circumstances,” Brinkman said.

Brinkman said that the inability to hold executive sessions made it tough to recruit a new city manager after Michael Penny was fired in 2016, because applicants were reluctant to have their interviews held in public. She added that council is also forced to do performance reviews of staff one-on-one with councilmembers.

“That’s no way to handle the public’s business,” Brinkman said.

Littleton’s current law is among the most restrictive in the state, said Jeff Roberts, executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

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