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AG Tom Horne Finds Quartzsite Open Meeting Law Violations

PHOENIX (Tuesday, December 13, 2011) -- Attorney General Tom Horne has found evidence that the Quartzsite Town Council has violated Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws (A.R.S. §§ 38-431 et. seq.) in connection with the conduct of Town Council meetings and dealings with a member of the public.

In a letter to the Quartzsite Town Attorney, Horne notes that on June 28, 2011, while addressing the Council, Quartzsite resident Jennifer Jones was removed from the meeting by a vote of the council. She had turned her back on the council and was addressing the audience, which the council reasonably could object to. Public bodies can eject members of the public for disruptive conduct, but they must first give a warning, which the council failed to do.

The second violation occurred on July 10, 2011 in which the Council convened an emergency meeting on at the Town Hall to discuss disruptions during previous meetings. The Council locked the doors to the meeting room and did not allow any member of the public to attend its meeting. Excluding the public from this meeting violated the Open Meeting Law.

In the third and related violation, the Attorney General notes that the Council did not fully comply with the posting requirements for emergency meetings. As of December 9, 2011, the minutes of the emergency meeting were not posted on the Town website.

The final violation involves the failure to comply with posting requirements for Notices and Minutes.

The Council did not post minutes for the July 10, 2011 emergency meeting. In addition, the Council failed to post minutes for a number of its meetings labeled as “work sessions.”

As a remedy, Horne is recommending that:

  1. The Council will discuss the concerns listed in this letter with its legal counsel in open session during a properly noticed public meeting.
  2. Each member of the Council and staff will participate in a training session with counsel from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns regarding the requirements of the Open Meeting Laws.
  3. The Council will be subject to oversight by the Attorney General’s Office for a period of twelve months.

A copy of the letter to the Town is attached.

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