Closed city meeting violated law

From the Post Register

SALMON — A May 24 meeting of the Salmon City Council that was called in order to fire Salmon Police Chief Jim Spain violated Idaho’s open meeting law, according to an investigation of the incident by an independent prosecutor.

“It is my determination that this meeting was not properly conducted,” Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney John Bujak wrote in a letter to Lemhi County Prosecutor Bruce Withers and Salmon City Attorney John McKinney.

Bujak declined to impose a penalty for the violation, saying the council rescinded its action — the firing of Spain — after it learned the meeting was likely illegal. After questions arose about the meeting’s legality, the council voted 4-2 at a special meeting June 9 to fire Spain despite pleas from dozens of supporters to retain the veteran lawman.

Referring to Idaho law, Bujak wrote that if “a governing body violates the law, but thereafter rescinds its action and ‘cures’ the violation, the ‘cure’ acts as a bar to the imposition of a penalty.”

Salmon Mayor John Miller called the council to an emergency meeting the morning of May 24 to fire Spain, complaining about his lack of rapport with the chief and that Spain’s officers were coming down too hard on drunken drivers.

Idaho code requires that an emergency meeting, which does not require public notice, must focus on immediate financial damage or physical harm, neither of which was at issue when five of six council members gathered for the emergency meeting. McKinney was neither notified nor consulted about the meeting. Miller could not be reached for comment about Bujak’s findings.

The mayor has faced fallout from his push to oust Spain, including a recall campaign spearheaded by a former council member and the resignation of Salmon City Administrator George Ambrose.

From the Post Register

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