Newspaper requests records related to Fraser Rec District director
Through Colorado Press Association Attorney Christopher P. Beall of Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz, LLP, of Denver, the Sky-Hi Daily News and Editor Autumn Phillips sent a letter to the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District dated Thursday, March 13, about providing minutes or a recording of the vote made in the decision to discontinue the 22-year employment of Cyndy Flores, the districts former executive director. Flores spearheaded the successful 2007 $19.5 million bond issue for improvements to the Pole Creek Golf Course, Fraser Valley Sports Complex and the construction of a recreation center. Flores categorized her decision to leave as a forced resignation.The newspaper, in an effort to keep the public aware of its dealings with elected officials, opted to print the letter, addressed to Jim Fox, President, Board of Directors, Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District:Re: Records relating to Board meeting and decision on employment of Cyndy FloresDear Mr. Fox:This law firm is legal counsel to the Colorado Press Association, and under the auspices of that association, we are writing to you on behalf of the Sky-Hi Daily News and its editor Autumn Phillips.We understand the Board of Directors of the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District recently took steps to terminate the employment or otherwise request the resignation of Cyndy Flores, the District’s executive director. In connection with that decision by the Board, the Sky-Hi Daily News this week has requested that the District provide it with copies of any documents reflecting the Board’s decisions on the employment of Ms. Flores, such as board meeting minutes or e-mails or any other records. The District has responded to this request indicating that no such records exist.The absence of any documentation of the Board’s decision to terminate the employment of Ms. Flores suggests that the Board made this decision outside of a properly convened public meeting or otherwise during an executive session of the Board.As you may know, the Colorado Open Meetings Law (COML) prohibits the Board from taking any action, and even from coming to any informal decisions, at any gathering other than a properly noticed public meeting. See 24-6-402(2)(b) & (2)(c) and -(402)(4), C.R.S.; see also Hanover Sch. Dist. No. 28 v. Barbour, 171 P.3d 223, 228 (Colo. 2007). In addition, the statute also requires the Board to create, maintain, and make available to the public minutes for any meeting at which a decision by the Board is made or could be made. See 24-6-402(2)(d)(II) and (2)(d)(III), C.R.S. And finally, the statute dictates that any decision by the Board that is made at a gathering that violates the provisions of the COML is void and of no legal effect. See 24-6-402(8), C.R.S.; see also Van Alstyne v. Housing Auth., 985 P.2d 97, 101 (Colo. App. 1999) ([A]ny such actions taken at any meeting that is held in contravention of the Open Meetings Law cease to exist or to have any effect); Walsenburg Sand & Gravel Co. v. City Council, 160 P.3d 297, 299-300 (Colo. App. 2007).In light of the appearance arising from the circumstances of Ms. Flores’ termination, which indicate that the Board likely has violated the COML in making an undocumented decision at a gathering that was not properly noticed and open to the public, we ask that you provide us with an explanation as to how the Board’s conduct complied with the statute. In particular, we ask that you identify for us when and where the Board made its decisions with respect to Ms. Flores’ employment, and that you provide us with any documentation related to the meeting at which those decisions were made, such as the meeting notice, meeting agenda, meeting minutes, and any e-mails by or between board members related to Ms. Flores’ employment. These documents are requested pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act, 24-72-203(1)(a), C.R.S., and we request that these materials be provided to us as quickly as possible but in no event later than three business days from the date of this letter. To the extent any of these materials are withheld from disclosure, we require that you provide a log of the particular documents being withheld, with sufficient information to identify both the factual and statutory basis for the non-disclosure. See 24-72-204(4), C.R.S.Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your prompt response.Very truly yours,LEVINE SULLIVAN KOCH & SCHULZ, L.L.P.By Christopher P. Beall
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