Fraser Rec District board discusses destruction of executive session recordings
March 25, 2009
During the recent recall election of three Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District board members, a few people expressed concern over the board’s policy to destroy electronic recordings of executive sessions after 90 days.
Ninety days is the minimum amount of time required by Colorado statute for the retention of executive session recordings by a special district.
The policy to follow the minimum requirements was set more than 10 years ago by a previous rec board.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, Rec Board President Dan O’Connell wondered aloud if it might be time to revisit the policy.
Board member Greg Gallavan suggested extending the period of time the district holds onto executive session recordings to one year.
“This was a very passionate part of our recent board history,” said board member Pete Strohecker. “As far as the legal erasing of (recordings) after 90 days, going for a year is a bit much for me. If we doubled the time to six months, that would satisfy a lot of hard feelings that were developed in our recent history.”
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The board may go into executive session for two reasons – discussion of personnel matters and discussion of contract negotiations. Policy may not be discussed and decisions may not be made.
All votes that come from discussions in executive session must be done in a public meeting.
If a member of the public feels that something illegal happened in executive session – such as a vote – that person must present their case to a judge and request a recording of the executive session. At that point, the recording must be retained until the issue is resolved.
“There’s a reason executive sessions are there,” said board member Beth Sands. “Sometime you don’t want a public record of staff issues.
“If that information comes out a year later, it could devastate that person.
“It’s not about hiding anything. I don’t know if it’s productive to have something hanging out over your head for a year.”
O’Connell said that the board first needed to decide whether it felt the policy should be changed.
“How long do you have to give people? If something’s done in executive session, is three months long enough (for someone to raise the red flag and request a recording)?” he asked.
“If you’re not hiding anything, and if what we’re going for is transparency,” Gallavan said, “why not keep them?”
Sands worried that holding onto the recording for as long as a year would allow people to listen to her comments long after she was off the board and no longer around to explain her motivation.
“That can be destructive,” she said.
Board member John Kacik suggested that the topic be tabled until the board was better informed. He offered to spend the next month talking to other boards about their policy regarding the retention of executive session recordings.
“I don’t think there should be anything that stops people from getting information,” O’Connell said. “If 90 days keeps people from exercising their right to information, that’s not being transparent.
“Before I make a decision, I’d like to be more educated about it and I want to give people the opportunity to participate.”
The board agreed to discuss the issue at the next board meeting. Until then, Kacik will poll other boards and board members will ask district residents for their opinions.
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