Open records lawsuit creates strange bedfellows among Basalt government and ex-manager Scanlon
December 8, 2016
A lawsuit by a resident of Basalt against the town government is making strange bedfellows.
The Basalt Town Council is teamed with former Town Manager Mike Scanlon to try to prevent a citizens' group from convincing a judge that four private meetings were improperly noticed and any records of discussions should be opened to the public. (See related story.)
Scanlon successfully argued through attorney Kendra Carberry of Denver that he should be able to intervene in the lawsuit Ted Guy filed against Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt, the Town Council and Town Clerk Pam Schilling.
Scanlon contends that personnel decisions, records and personal information about him were discussed in four executive sessions between April and August. He wants to ensure that information is kept private.
"Neither defendants nor Plaintiff will adequately represent Scanlon's interest in asserting his right to privacy," Scanlon said in his motion to intervene. "Plaintiffs seek disclosure of the information, and Defendants have no privacy interest in the information, and only seek to protect the process."
Eagle County District Judge Russell Granger ruled that Scanlon could enter the lawsuit. However, he rejected Carberry's request to participate in a hearing Thursday by telephone. He said she should have showed up at the hearing if she wanted to participate.
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Granger noted that Scanlon's interests seem "fairly aligned" with the town's position.
The irony is that the Town Council and Scanlon are in the thick of their own legal dispute with one another, while Guy and some of his associates are Scanlon's supporters.
Scanlon abruptly quit his job in August after rifts developed between him and some council members over levels of oversight and spending. He is demanding a severance package equal to one year of pay salary and benefits. The town countered with something less than one year.
Scanlon has put the town on notice that he intends to sue the town over the severance dispute.
Guy is part of a citizens' group that has been critical of the council for alleged violations of the Colorado Open Meetings Law and Colorado Open Records Act. The group is also upset with the council for the rift with Scanlon, who they supported as town manager. Nevertheless, Scanlon and his supporters are now on opposite sides of the open records dispute.