Basalt town government wants to intervene in lawsuit
December 13, 2012
BASALT – The Basalt Town Council on Wednesday filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit The Aspen Times filed to gain access to an investigation report on the management practices of the former police chief.
The newspaper filed its lawsuit Dec. 8 against Town Manager Mike Scanlon as custodian of the investigation report. The Town Council wants to intervene because it may have different interests to protect than Scanlon, according to its motion, prepared by Town Attorney Tom Smith.
A judge hasn’t ruled yet on whether The Aspen Times will be granted access to the report by Mountain States Employers Council. The town hired the impartial party in October to investigate a complaint about Police Chief Roderick O’Connor by someone within his department. Several employees of the Police Department were interviewed.
O’Connor resigned Nov. 23, and the investigation report wasn’t released. Town officials won’t release the report because they say it’s part of a personnel matter and the department employees were promised that their comments wouldn’t be revealed.
“The Town Council has an agreement with former Chief of Police Roderick O’Connor that it will not publicly disclose the MSEC Report and that it will keep the MSEC Report confidential,” the town’s motion said. The confidentiality provisions are enforceable based on prior Colorado court cases, the motion continued.
Scanlon isn’t necessarily bound by such a confidentiality agreement, the motion said, so the Town Council wants to make sure its interests are represented in the case.
“The Town Council is entitled to a determination that either the MSEC Report is not subject to public disclosure, or that the Town Council will not be in breach of its obligation of confidentiality as contained in the Agreement if disclosure is required by the Court,” the motion said.
The town government indicated that it will file an answer and counterclaim to the newspaper’s lawsuit as well as a complaint in intervention.