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Commissioners tied in knots trying to hide meetings? 
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Post Commissioners tied in knots trying to hide meetings?
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NOTICE TO PUBLIC: On last week's agenda, the BOCC listed a discussion on the Wednesday Work Session and marked it "Cancelled" at the end. The agenda did not state that the Commissioners intended to have that meeting on the day before the agenda that was published. The discussion was not cancelled, but moved to their Tuesday agenda which they do not publish on their website for the benefit of the public at large. Most of the public was unaware that there would be a Tuesday meeting. We now have information that they may do the same with Monday schedules. They may hold meetings and public discussions on either Monday or Tuesday without publishing the agendas or notices for those meetings on the website with the other notices. For this Wednesday, June 16, 2010, a discussion regarding the IT/Comm building was listed on the Wednesday agenda, but marked out and followed by "Cancelled." The jail discussion for last week was marked in the same way, then was held on the day before at an outlying location. One or two members of the public found out strictly by accident.

This appears, in our informed opinion, to be a continuation of the constructive withholding of information to which the public is legally entitled under Colorado's "Sunshine Law" applying to meeting notices. Park County Commissioners appear to be attempting to constructively prevent public attendance at meetings with sensitive content, such as Sheriff's Department overspending and million dollar losses in his operations, building of a new multi-million dollar building (the need for which is controversial), and any other subject matters that may embarrass your government officials or inconvenience them with public input.

Colorado Revised Statutes
24-6-401. Declaration of policy.

It is declared to be a matter of statewide concern and the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and may not be conducted in secret.

24-6-402 Excerpt from Colorado's Sunshine Laws
(2)(c) Any meetings at which the adoption of any proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, regulation, or formal action occurs or at which a majority or quorum of the body is in attendance, or is expected to be in attendance, shall be held only after full and timely notice to the public. In addition to any other means of full and timely notice, a local public body shall be deemed to have given full and timely notice if the notice of the meeting is posted in a designated public place within the boundaries of the local public body no less than twenty-four hours prior to the holding of the meeting.

(Editorial note: Our county government posts notices of meetings only in very limited places, requiring the thousands of people who make up the county public and who might be interested in attending, to drive to the county offices daily to become informed of such meetings. The county has paid for the operations of a website on which they publish the notices for some meetings but refuse to publish others of the same type when they don't want easy access to the notice of the more secretive meetings. They post a Thursday meeting, for instance, but not a Tuesday meeting that would typically deal with spending issues. This continues without explanation.)

From Annotations:
The intent of the Open Meetings Law is to afford public access to a broad range of meetings at which public business is considered. Benson v. McCormick, 195 Colo. 381, 578 P.2d 651 (1978); Van Alstyne v. Hous. Auth. of City of Pueblo, 985 P.2d 97 (Colo. App. 1999); Bd. of County Comm'rs v. Costilla County Conservancy Dist., 88 P.3d 1188 (Colo. 2004)

The public meetings laws are interpreted broadly to further the legislative intent that citizens be given a greater opportunity to become fully informed on issues of public importance so that meaningful participation in the decision-making process may be achieved. Cole v. State, 673 P.2d 345 (Colo. 1983).


Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:20 am
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