Lawyer says Summit County Council met secretly
July 21, 2009
A crowded, closed session the Summit County Council held July 15 wasn’t noticed properly to the public on last week’s meeting agenda, a lawyer in South Summit claims.
Attorney Bruce Margolius criticized Summit County in a July 15 e-mail he sent to interim County Manager Brian Bellamy, members of the Summit County Council and The Park Record.
The agenda for the County Council meeting at the Sheldon Richins Building July 15 included a notice for an "executive session" at 3:45 p.m.
"I’m not sure what’s intended by this, but in the past this phrase has been used to indicate a closed meeting," Margolius wrote in his e-mail.
The chambers are closed during the Summit County Council’s executive sessions so the public and press cannot hear sensitive discussions about personnel matters, litigation and property acquisition.
But agendas must indicate in general ways reasons why meetings should be closed, Margolius said in his e-mail to Summit County officials.
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"I’m writing to advise you that, under the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act, executive sessions are included in the kinds of meetings that must be open unless properly closed," Margolius states in his letter. "The correct way to notice a closed meeting is to use those words and to indicate the reason for closure in a general way e.g. ‘closed meeting personnel.’"
At prior meetings, councilpersons should approve closed sessions planned in advance, Margolius claimed.
The Summit County Council met in separate closed sessions July 15 for discussions about land acquisition, litigation and personnel matters, Bellamy said in an interview.
State law does not require the County Council to approve some closed sessions the week prior, Bellamy claimed.