The Durango Herald will ask a district court judge to explain his ruling, announced earlier this month, that La Plata County commissioners did not violate the state open meeting law while conducting a search in January for a new county manager.
“We would like to hear some detail on what the judge did or didn’t find in the executive session recording,” Herald Publisher Richard G. Ballantine said.
The Herald on Friday filed a motion for the court to amend or alter its findings or judgment to include an explanation of the legal conclusion.
Judge Jeffrey Wilson issued the decision July 16 that “at no time during the executive sessions did the La Plata County Board of County Commissioners adopt a proposed policy, position, resolution, rule, regulation or formal action that is subject to inspection pursuant to the Colorado Open Records Act.”
But the decision did not include any basis or reasoning behind Wilson’s determination, Steve Zansberg, attorney for the Herald and the Colorado Press Association, wrote in a motion to the court.
“The parties, and the public, are at a loss to fully understand the basis for the Court’s determination,” the motion said. “Both the parties and the public will benefit from the Court’s amending its findings and/or judgment by allowing them to understand how the Court has applied the Open Meetings Law to the circumstances.”
A more thorough explanation of the judge’s reasoning also may inform the Herald’s decision whether to appeal the court’s ruling.
At issue are two executive session meetings, held Jan. 6 and Jan. 9, during which commissioners reportedly decided in an informal 2-1 vote not to extend an offer to one of the finalists for the county manager position. The Herald seeks to understand whether a vote and a decision did occur and, if it did, how this does not constitute adopting a position, Zansberg wrote.
“Is it because nothing occurred or because the parties disagree over whether (what occurred) constitutes adopting a position? It’s ambiguous,” Zansberg said in an interview Wednesday.