Jul 212009
Authors: Madeline Novey

Almost three months after three media entities filed a lawsuit against the CSU System Board of Governors for violating the Colorado Open Meeting Law when it selected Joe Blake as CSU Chancellor in its May 5 meeting, all parties have agreed to reach a settlement.

Those involved in the case, CSU and the three parties that filed the lawsuit on May 6 — the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the Colorado Independent and the Pueblo Chieftan — anticipate to file the dismissal of the case today, a lawyer involved in the case said Tuesday.

No details of the settlement are available until all persons involved have reached and signed an agreement, said Chris Beall, the Denver-based attorney representing the three publications. Beall also represents the Collegian.

“The expectation is that all the signatures will be in (Wednesday) afternoon,” Beall said, explaining that the publications, BOG Chair Doug Jones, the state controller and all attorneys involved in the case are required to sign off on the terms of the settlement.

The BOG’s chief spokesperson, Michele McKinney, said she didn’t have any additional information about the settlement, adding, “We should probably know more (today).”

On May 7, District Judge Stephen Schapanski decided to review the full four-hour recording of BOG’s closed-door executive session on May 5 o 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.

Since the lawsuit was filed, Beall and the publications have noticed the BOG’s increased adherence to open-meetings law since filing the suit and hope this behavior continues in the future.

“It is heartening for the newspapers to see that since the case has been filed, the board has been much more circumspect,” Beall said last month, adding that the board has followed open-meetings law, “as opposed with doing it improperly.”

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

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

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