Opinion: Erie should let the sunshine in

From the Daily Camera (Boulder):  By Aaron Harber

Having easily-accessible meetings and records involving the conduct of the public’s business is a primary theme of open government in Colorado. It has been distressing to see Erie Town Administrator Arthur Krieger, Mayor Tina Harris, and the other members of the Board of Trustees engaging in processes which are intentionally structured to keep citizens and the press away from discussions of public business.

With the help of Colorado’s top “Sunshine” attorneys — Steve Zansberg and Tom Kelley — I expressed my concern that the semi-secret board meetings held prior to public board meetings were a violation of the law because they were not properly noticed. The town’s initial response was to attack me personally and mischaracterize a number of facts. Nevertheless, despite the town’s false assertions, it agreed to change its policy.

While it is gratifying the town acknowledged it had not adequately notified the public of its regular so-called “study sessions” and took steps to rectify the situation, changing how it provides notice for meetings, I do not understand why it refuses to provide true public access to these meetings.

There is no question the meetings were intentionally structured so citizens would not attend. The town accomplished this by providing inadequate notice, not providing an actual agenda for the semi-secret meetings, innocuously describing the meetings as “study sessions” despite the fact study sessions typically refer to focusing on a particular topic, and holding the meetings away from the board room, where citizens otherwise gather.

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