Judge: Ada County violated Idaho Open Meeting Law

From the Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – A District Court judge ruled Friday that members of the Ada County Commission violated the Idaho Open Meeting Law when they gathered behind closed doors last June 15 to discuss a proposed new housing development.

No fines have yet been levied against Judy Peavey-Derr, Rick Yzaguirre and Fred Tilman in the lawsuit filed against the commission by the Idaho attorney general’s office.

Both sides can submit suggestions on “the amount of monetary sanction which should be imposed,” Judge William Woodward wrote in a 10-page ruling. Each of the commissioners faces a penalty of $150, the maximum allowed by Idaho law for first-time Open Meeting Law violations.

The commissioners met with Boise City Councilman Vern Bisterfeldt to discuss a proposed 1,000-home, 700-acre development atop a plateau above the Boise River east of Idaho’s capital city. The project has spawned opposition among opponents who say building there could damage wildlife.

The Open Meeting Law allows governmental bodies to hold closed sessions “to consider and advise its legal representatives in pending litigation or where there is general public awareness of probable litigation.”

No lawyer was present at the commission’s closed meeting.

Woodland wrote that the defendants lacked the authority to hold a closed meeting.

Phone calls to Rich Wright, the county commission’s spokesman, to determine how much money the panel has spent on private attorney Patrick Furey to defend them in the case weren’t immediately returned.

From the Associated Press

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