The Ada Commishes are stretching out their legal battle over holding a closed meeting last June 15 after Judge William H. Woodland declared the meeting to be illegal. He made the finding in response to a motion for summary judgment filed by the Idaho Attorney General’s office and the commishes are aiming to appeal.
The AG got the case because the Ada prosecutor had an obvious conflict of interest prosecuting the officials he also represents in legal matters. None of the local judges would take the case, hence Woodland was assigned.
The case has gone beyond common sense and raised the ire of GUARDIAN readers and county citizens in general. Simply put the commishes had a CLOSED DOOR meeting with Boise City Councilor Vern Bisterfeldt. According to his Bisterfeldt’s sworn statements and the findings of the court, matters not subject to “executive sessions” were discussed.
The judge agreed with the AG assertions that meetings closed to discuss “litigation or possible litigation” needed to have an attorney present and more substance than speculation by the elected officials closing the meeting to public scrutiny.
State law provides for civil fines up to $150 for each violation. The GUARDIAN suggested nearly a year ago the commishes admit they screwed up and make a donation to charity as penance…it would be hard to prosecute if they said, “We made a mistake. SORRY.”
Instead they hired a private attorney and paid him nearly $18,000 in taxpayer money to defend them. The guy lost the case for them and we hear he is now going to handle the appeal “pro bono” (free to you non-library types).
At least one commish claims the reason for keeping the battle alive is to “clarify the law.” Perhaps it is easy to argue PRINCIPLE if you don’t have to pay the PRINCIPAL. If they want clarification, how about supporting new legislation that will make the rules abundantly clear?
We figure the upcoming county election campaign will have some “clarifications” from voters.
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