Two Marana councilmembers will not face disciplinary action after violating an open meeting law.
A few weeks ago, a councilmember sent out an email to three other councilmembers regarding the Marana River Heritage Park. The email proposed legal action. It is an open meeting law violation if a quorum discusses public business when not in a public forum. According to A.R.S.§38-431.01: All meetings of any public body shall be public meetings and all persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings. All legal action of public bodies shall occur during a public meeting.
“There was no decision made, but the email did propose that legal action be taken,” said Jane Fairall, town attorney of Marana. “That is where the violation occurred.”
A few recipients of the email brought it to the town manager and an outside attorney was hired to investigate the violation. No disciplinary action will be taken. Instead, the violation will be remedied at a September council meeting. The meeting will be open to the public and will discuss what happened and who was involved.
“In general, under an open meeting law violation you can ratify the decision or remove the violation by having a full discussion in an open meeting that has been notified to the public,” said Fairall. “There is nothing that the town can do, but remedy the violation.”
Though this does not remedy the violation, Town Manager Gilbert Davidson says that the town is working with the council to provide additional training about open meeting laws and discussions in a public forum.
“We deal with the situation, lessons are learned and we make our team more aware of what’s required and make sure that we are doing the best we can to serve the Town of Marana,” said Davidson.
For Mayor Ed Honea, this is the first time something like this has happened in the 27 years he’s been employed with the town and is pleased with how the town has handled the violation. The actions taken by the town have been legal and in a timely manner.
“The biggest effect will be on the two individuals that made the error,” said Honea. “Sometimes we get a little careless and this will wake everyone up that they can’t do this.”
The violation, as well as Heritage Park, will be discussed at the Sept. 9 council meeting.