Did Carbon County Commissioners Make Another “Legal Mistake”?

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Did Carbon County Commissioners make another “legal mistake” as they named it last November, or is there more to the story?

Posted on the Carbon County Commission’s “upcoming agendas” tab, wasВ a public meeting at 450 South Fairgrounds Road on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. regarding the Energy Gateway South Transmission Project. В When representatives andВ officials from the BLM, Carbon County, Price City, various media sources, and citizens arrived, Tamara Gertsch, BLM National Project Coordinator for the Project, announced that, in fact a publicВ meetingВ would not take place. В She then asked the public, the media, and the representative ofВ Price City to leave the meeting.

Members of the media stated that they should not be expected to leaveВ the meeting because the meeting was posted on a public website as aВ public meeting. It was also mentioned that it reflected poorly on theВ officials to conduct a confidential meeting on what could prominently effect the area and the citizens therein.

Members participating in the meeting then announced that the meetingВ was a “pre-decisional” meeting. Information from the closed meeting will be presented to Price City Councilmen in August, and won’t be released to the public until next summer.

The closing of this meeting to the public brings to mind another instance when Carbon County Commissioners closed a meeting to the public in much the same way. В In that example, however, the commission released a full recording of the meeting and a statement which acknowledged, “counsel for the County Commission was not present at the meeting and was unable to provide direction as to the propriety of going into the closed session.”

Today, however, counsel for the County Commission was present and took responsibility for the error of posting the meeting on the website as a public meeting. В What the counselor failed to do, was advise the commission on the legalities of closing a meeting.

According to theВ Utah Open and Public Meeting’s Act, which was put in place to require “government to take actions openly, and ensures deliberations allow for an open public process,” commissioners did not follow proper procedure.

While the content of the meeting may or may not have qualified under the Act to be closed, proper procedure for closing the meeting was not followed. В In order for a meeting to become closed to the public, the following criteria must be met:

A Quorum must be present.

– Two-thirds of the body must vote to close the meeting.

– The body must first hold a public meeting with proper notice before entering into the closed meeting.

– The body must publicly disclose:

• The vote by name of each member for or against entering into the closed meeting

• The reasons for holding the closed meeting

• Location of the closed meeting

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More information on the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act can be found here.

Information on the “Energy Gateway South Transmission Project” can be found here.

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One Reply to “Did Carbon County Commissioners Make Another “Legal Mistake”?”

  1. Josie says:

    Great job Zach! Your writing is getting really good.

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