A district court judge has ruled the city of Clinton did violate the open meetings law in discussing budget and personnel reductions in a closed door meeting. The ruling came in a case filed by former Human Resource Director Dave Geisler, who lost his job in the reductions.
The summary judgment covered one meeting and a hearing is still set for a second violation that the lawsuit cited. A summary judgment was granted because there were not factual disputes about the meeting in question-but a second meeting is still in dispute.
Judge Mark Smith granted the judgment concerning a meeting held September 13, 2011. He said the records showed the meeting was called to discuss personnel matters, but no individual requested the closed meeting. The transcripts of the meeting showed the issues discussed were the elimination of departments, severance pay and other budget reduction proposals.
The city was looking to make up an $800,000 dollar shortage in the budget. The ruling states this did not constitute substantial compliance with the Open Meetings Law and is the reason the law was created to allow the public and city employees to be aware of what the council is doing and their reasoning when the eliminated positions.
Judge Smith wrote there is some factual dispute about a September 2nd meeting and that portion can proceed to trial. The damage or penalty phase for the violation in the summary judgment should be heard at the same time as the trial on the September 2nd meeting.
By Dave Vickers, KROS, Clinton