December hearing set in Basalt open records court battle
An Eagle County District Court judge has scheduled a show cause hearing for December in the open records case that resident Ted Guy filed against the Basalt Town Council, Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and the town clerk.
Town officials will have to show Judge Russell Granger why some records sought by Guy haven’t been turned over. The hearing will be held Dec. 8.
Guy filed the lawsuit in October seeking a declaratory judgment that the town government has violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law. He also sought the show cause hearing regarding records he requested but didn’t receive.
Guy alleges that electronic recordings of the Town Council’s executive sessions of April 26, Aug. 9 and Aug. 11 should be made public. Guy, through attorney Steve Zansberg of Denver, claimed the town violated the open meetings law because proper notice wasn’t given in advance of the closed meetings.
The town government contends it lawfully held the executive sessions, which are closed to the public. It has refused to turn over audio recordings.
The town’s answer also says the employment agreement of former town manager Mike Scanlon prohibited it from holding executive sessions about his performance in public and turning over audio recordings of the proceedings.
Guy’s lawsuit alleged that his Aug. 25 demand for open records wasn’t properly fulfilled by town officials. He requested all business texts by Whitsitt from Aug. 1 to 25 but hasn’t received them. Steve Dawes, a special counsel for the town, replied to the request Sept. 30 by saying the town “has no text messages responsive to the request.”
Guy’s lawsuit contends texts obtained from Assistant Town Manager Judi Tippetts shows Whitsitt was sending business texts during that time period.
The town’s answer insists there were no violations of the Colorado Open Records Act.
Guy’s lawsuit also says he requested all electronic communications exchanged between Whitsitt, Councilwoman Katie Schwoerer, Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle “and/or” Scanlon from July 1 to Aug. 25. He believes emails that exist on town business haven’t been provided. The town contends it complied with the open records request.
Guy said in a statement released Tuesday that he believes the records, once released, will show that members of the council are conducting business outside of the public view.
The town is asking that Guy’s complaint be dismissed and a judgment entered in its favor. Both sides want their attorney’s fees paid by the other side.
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