The problem with Executive Sessions
During a Special Session on Wednesday, September 23rd, the Town Council went into Executive Session “regarding Town golf operations at the 9-hole El Conquistador Resort Course [Pusch Ridge Course], including Memorandum of Understanding thereon and lease thereof.”
This MOU has never been discussed in public. It has never been attached to an agenda. In fact, it has only been discussed in Executive Sessions.
Executive session proceedings are private. The participants cannot openly discuss what took place in those sessions. The minutes can only be seen via a subpoena. The Executive Session that took place on September 23rd was a prime example of using the Executive Session to shield information that should be available to the public.
The Council exited the September 23rd Executive Session and moved to continue the effective date of the MOU with HSL from October 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021.
Why was the start date for the HSL Pusch Ridge lease extended?
Oro Valley residents will never know the reasons for this extension. Yes, the COVID crisis has affected all facets of the economy, including the resort/hospitality area. But it has also adversely affected Oro Valley’s sales tax revenues. So why does our Council feel the need to spend an additional 120 days of your taxpayer money to assist HSL? Why do they cut Lopez some slack, but not the citizens?
There is no requirement to hold Executive Sessions
While it’s true that contracts are one of the 7 reasons to hold an Executive Session (see the full list below), there is no requirement to do so and there appears to be more Executive Sessions in recent years than in past years. Our Town Manager seems to relish Executive Sessions as they keep matters from the public and saddle the Town Council with nondisclosure. This practice needs to stop.
The Town Council needs to make public decisions in public.
Arizona Open Meetings Laws allow for 7 reasons to go into Executive Sessions:
1. Discussion or consideration of employment, assignment, appointment, promotion, demotion, dismissal, salaries, disciplining or resignation of a public officer, appointee or employee of any public body.
2. Discussion or consideration of records exempt by law from public inspection.
3. Discussion or consultation for legal advice with the attorney or attorneys of the public body.
4. Discussion or consultation with the attorneys of the public body in order to consider its position and instruct its attorneys regarding the public body's position regarding contracts that are the subject of negotiations, in pending or contemplated litigation or in settlement discussions conducted in order to avoid or resolve litigation.
5. Discussions or consultations with designated representatives of the public body in order to consider its position and instruct its representatives regarding negotiations with employee organizations regarding the salaries, salary schedules or compensation paid in the form of fringe benefits of employees of the public body.
6. Discussion, consultation or consideration for international and interstate negotiations or for negotiations by a city or town, or its designated representatives, with members of a tribal council, or its designated representatives, of an Indian reservation located within or adjacent to the city or town.
7. Discussions or consultations with designated representatives of the public body in order to consider its position and instruct its representatives regarding negotiations for the purchase, sale or lease of real property.