Jul 212009
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

The CSU Board of Governors and the three media entities, that filed a lawsuit against it for violating Open Meeting Law in its closed-door selection of Joe Blake as CSU chancellor, entered into a settlement agreement Wednesday afternoon.

Though the case is not officially closed, said Denver-based attorney Chris Beall, who represents the three media entities in the lawsuit, the parties involved will file a stipulation to do so with the judge presiding over the case Wednesday night.

“The board decided it is in everyone’s best interest to remove the cloud of this litigation from ongoing debate, so that the Board and the institutions’ new leaders can concentrate on moving our organizations forward,” according to a press release e-mailed to the Collegian Wednesday by BOG Spokesperson Michele McKinney.

The agreement, filed by the BOG, the Multimedia Holdings Corporation, The Star-Journal Publishing Company and the Center for Independent Media, starts the close of the almost three-month long case and “avoids further litigation costs and does not constitute an admission of liability or evidence of any wrongdoing or omission of any kind,” McKinney said in the press release.

The language above used in the settlement, means that the BOG did not admit to breaking the law. However, Beall said those who filed the lawsuit were OK with its use because District Judge Stephen Schapanski had found the board in violation of COML in June, after his review of recordings of the May 5 executive session.

The board will pay the $19,000 in legal fees incurred by three publications that sued the BOG — the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the Colorado Independent and the Pueblo Chieftan. As ordered by Judge Schapanski, the BOG will turn over portions of recordings of its May 5 executive session that were not previously released by the board to the public.

On May 7, Judge Schapanski decided to review the full four-hour recording of BOG’s closed-door executive session on May 5 to determine if it violated the COML.

Schapanski said in a written ruling June 19 that he found three separate violations after reviewing the recording. The violations included:

Substantial discussion about a board member in private — Joe Blake did not recuse himself from his position as BOG vice chairman until May 26.

Private discussions about both Blake and the only other chancellor candidate interviewed, Dennis Brimhall, former CEO of the University of Colorado hospital in Denver, and

An instance when Jones asked if board members objected to selecting Blake as chancellor and all but one member objected, which qualified as a private decision, Beall said.

The outcome of the lawsuit will not void Blake’s appointment to the chancellor position, McKinney said last month.

Beall said since the suit was filed, all three media groups have noticed an increased level of transparency from the board, adding that the BOG is “providing the public with more access to more information about what the board is up to.”

If the public is interested in listening to the recording, they can contact the board office at 303-534-6290 or send a request by e-mail to csus_board@mail.colostate.edu.

News Managing Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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