Attorney general investigates open meetings complaint

CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) – The Idaho attorney general’s office is investigating a complaint that Canyon County commissioners violated Idaho’s open meeting laws.

The complaint, filed by government watchdog Deloris Cram, claims that in February the commissioners conducted an executive session without adequate public notice. Cram alleges that the county’s executive sessions are not properly announced nor recorded.

Idaho’s open meetings law requires that public officials give at least 24 hours notice before going into executive session. Executive sessions, which are closed to the public, are allowed only in specific situations, such as when officials must discuss personnel matters or pending litigation.

Cram claims commissioners David Ferdinand, Matt Beebe and Robert Vasquez conducted an improper executive session on Feb. 11 just before a public meeting on the county’s impact areas.

“I really, really only did this to point out that we cannot depend on the elected officials to actually follow the Open Meeting Laws unless we watch them every day, and we should not have to do that,” said Cram, who is an avid watcher of local government.

The commissioners deny Cram’s claims.

“As far as I know, all of our executive sessions are agendized,” Beebe said.

Besides, Ferdinand said, the commissioners make all of their final decisions in public.

Bob Cooper, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said his department was investigating the matter but he could not say when that investigation would be complete.

“We will engage in fact-finding and legal analysis and then we will inform (Prosecutor Dave) Young and the Canyon County commissioners of our conclusion,” Bob Cooper said.

Commissioners and other officials were fined $175 in 2002 for violating Open Meeting Laws after another complaint filed by Cram. That complaint regarded a meeting with county planners in which a proposed power plant near Middleton was discussed.

Beebe, Todd Lakey and Pat Galvin were county commissioners at the time.

Information from the Idaho Press-Tribune

From the Associated Press

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