Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Horne: Quartzsite violated opening meetings law

Posted: Dec 13, 2011 1:03 PM Updated: Dec 13, 2011 1:13 PM

By Phil Benson - email

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne


The Quartzsite Town Council violated Arizona's Open Meeting Laws in connection with the conduct of meetings and dealings with a member of the public, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said Tuesday.

Horne cited four alleged violations in a letter to the Quartzsite town attorney:

* June 28: While addressing the council, Quartzsite resident Jennifer Jones was removed from the meeting by a vote of the council, Horne said. She had turned her back on the council and was addressing the audience, which the council reasonably could object to, he said. Public bodies can eject members of the public for disruptive conduct, but they must first give a warning, which the council failed to do, Horne said.

* July 10: The Council convened an emergency meeting at the Town Hall to discuss disruptions during previous meetings. The Council locked the doors to the meeting room and did not allow any member of the public to attend its meeting, Horne said. Excluding the public from the meeting violated the Open Meeting Law, Horne said.

* Dec. 9: In a related violation, the Attorney General said the Council did not fully comply with the posting requirements for emergency meetings. Horne said as of Dec. 9, the minutes of the emergency meeting were not posted on the town's website.

* The final violation involved the failure to comply with posting requirements for notices and minutes, Horne said. The council did not post minutes for the July 10 emergency meeting, according to Horne. The council also failed to post minutes for a number of its meetings labeled as "work sessions," Horne said.

Horne said he was making several recommendations. He wanted the council to discuss his concerns with its legal counsel in open session during a properly noticed public meeting.

He recommended each member of the council and staff to take part in a training session with counsel from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, regarding the requirements of the Open Meeting Laws.

And he wanted the council to be subject to oversight by the Attorney General's Office for 12 months.

Copyright 2011 KPHO. All rights reserved.

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