Mar 202012
 
Authors: Allison Sylte

Despite concerns from on-campus stadium opposition groups about transparency, the
stadium advisory committee’s four subcommittees will not be meeting under the public eye, though they will be reporting a summary of their work during public gatherings.

“Since President Tony Frank said it was going to be open and transparent, we expected it to be open and transparent,” said Bob Vangermeersch, the founder of Save Our Stadium Hughes.

In an email to Diane Jones, the deputy city manager of Fort Collins and a member of the stadium advisory committee, university Deputy General Counsel Jason Johnson said a need for flexibility and informality during subcommittee proceedings was the key justification for keeping the meetings private, in addition to the notion that discussions involving confidential real estate matters and donor information must be protected from disclosure.

“CSU has elected to make the Stadium Advisory Committee meetings open to the public, though it is not required,” he wrote in the email. “This was an unusual step, but we felt it was appropriate in light of the strong public interest in this topic and our desire for transparency. The subcommittees, on the other hand, need the flexibility to meet, work and dispatch their responsibility efficiently and less formally…”

Johnson went on to explain that while Colorado’s Sunshine Law mandates that the CSU System Board of Governors hold public meetings at all times, meetings between CSU faculty, staff and administrators are not subject to the same requirements.

“Obviously, we respect that members of the public may see these issues differently, but the law is clear on what meetings are and are not required to be open to the public. The university felt that opening the committee meetings to the public, as well as having the subcommittees report all recommendations to the committee as a whole, in public session, properly balances our goals of transparency, efficiency, and public inclusion,” the email read.

Both CSU Spokesman Kyle Henley and Associated Students of CSU President and advisory committee member Eric Berlinberg have stated that a large portion of the work completed by the stadium advisory committee has occurred in the subcommittees.

But Henley and Berlinberg agree that, because the findings from the subcommittees will be evaluated publicly during the full committee meetings, it has no impact on the process’ overall level of transparency.

“These [the subcommittee] meetings have to be flexible around the different committee member’s jobs,” Henley said. “They’ll tell the full committee exactly what they’ve achieved during public session.”

“I don’t think it affects transparency at all,” Berlinberg said.

Jones said she was motivated to ask why stadium subcommittee meetings were private during a recent city council meeting, when numerous council and community members expressed concern about the process.

“I think the university is working very diligently to be very open,” she said. “There are a lot of avenues for people to comment.”

Vangermeersch said his concerns coie from the notion that, since subcommittees do a large amount of work, it would be difficult for the full committee to properly digest information from those subcommittees under the pressure of public session.

“Each one of those individuals in the subcommittees are hopefully going to have very lively discussions about the pros and cons of what they’re going to recommend,” Vangermeersch said. “The public should be able to sit in, and at least listen to the dialogue that’s going on.”

Jones will be addressing Save Our Stadium Hughes Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church. The next full stadium advisory committee meeting is slated for March 29 at 7 p.m. at the Fort Collins Hilton.

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Sub-Committee Assignments
Design and Best Practices
Facilitator: Jack Graham
Committee Members: Jim Smith, Stu MacMillan, Blanche Hughes and Mark Gill
Alumni, Campus and Public Engagement
Facilitator: Tom Milligan
Key Resource: Martin Carcasson at the Center for Public Deliberation
Committee Members: Farrah Bustamante and Connie Hanrahan
Site Selection
Facilitator: Amy Parsons
Committee Members: Eric Berlinberg, Diane Jones, Jim Francis and Blanche Hughes
Market Analysis and Funding Sources
Facilitator: Brett Anderson
Committee Members: Darshan Shah and Todd Donavan

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