Editor’s Column: Those Sunshine Laws again

Listen to this post

My kitchen is always open

to friends.

~ Dr. Hannibal Lecter

If you missed it, which many likely did, there was a “special meeting” of the Board of Commissioners Tuesday. It was an executive session of the board called for the purpose of conferencing “with the Rio Blanco County Attorney, Todd M. Starr, for the purpose of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions” and “determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations: developing strategy for negotiations: and instructing negotiators.”

The reasons a board can call for an executive session are limited by state statute. At the local level, the county attorney generally provides specificity on the reason for an executive session. The board votes to go into executive session for the specified topic. While in an executive session they are not to make decisions and they are not to change topics of discussion. If a decision is to be made, the board has to reconvene in a regular meeting to make the decision, and they can’t just “rubber stamp” whatever it was they talked about.

We’re unsure why the special meeting Tuesday was listed as “conferencing with the attorney” only to learn it was actually going to be a discussion of personnel matters with the public health department. When an executive session is held for the purpose of discussing personnel matters, the employee or staff member to be discussed is to be notified prior to the meeting and has the right to request that the meeting be open to the public instead of in a closed session. It would be awfully hard for an employee to know to request that option if they go into an executive session thinking it’s not going to be about personnel matters.

It kind of reminds me of getting a dinner invitation from Hannibal Lecter; are you having a meal, or are you the meal?

By NIKI TURNER | niki@ht1885.com

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.