Letter: The rights of citizens should come first

A number of years ago I retired from a public entity in Rangely. Some time after retiring I discovered while reading minutes of this entity that the trustees met at public meetings and discussed making an amendment to previous minutes drafted, but the trustees, allegedly, did not record in the minutes the information voted on and they would not disclose that information to a taxpayer when requested.
Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-401, which is state law, stipulates that when formal action occurs (which surely includes voting), the information “shall be promptly recorded and shall be open to public inspection.” Also, legislative policy states that “public business may not be conducted in secret,” and voting is public business.
Is it clear that when trustees vote at public meetings the information must be recorded and be available to the public? Why did that not happen?
Three of the trustees involved in this action in 2005 were still serving as of July 1, 2009, and may still be serving on this board as of this reading, having been reappointed.
This situation was addressed with the trustees and county commissioners when it was discovered, and I regret that it was not disclosed to the public at that time but health concerns were a factor in the circumstances.
I have agonized at the discovery of this and other pertinent minutes and information and the realization that the taxpayers have not yet had the opportunity to have access to what trustees voted on, which is their right, and I can no longer keep this information from the public – it has been a shocking and disheartening experience.
I believe the best way for taxpayers to determine the honesty and integrity of trustees is if they are transparent and forthright — otherwise the public is left in the dark, perhaps having their rights violated.
If violations occurred concerning this situation should trustees remain in their appointed positions? I assume the taxpayers will determine that if they are concerned with the public’s right to know and the law.
Even in places such as Rangely, is it not expected that rules and laws are to be respected and obeyed by those serving on a public board?
That is the purpose of the Sunshine Law — to protect the public. Should not someone be concerned about the rights of the citizens?
Gwen Elam
American Fork, Utah