The Quartzsite Town Council violated Arizona’s Open Meeting Laws four times in connection to the removal of a local resident from a July meeting, Attorney General Tom Horne has ruled.
Horne sent a letter to the Quartzsite Town Attorney regarding the Council’s removal of Jennifer Jones, who was speaking during a call to the public in June. The controversial incident was caught on video and later viewed by thousands over the Internet.
The Council had reason to object when Jones turned her back to the Council and addressed the audience, but she should have been given a warning.
“Public bodies can eject members of the public for disruptive conduct, but they must first give a warning, which the council failed to do,” Horne’s press release stated.
A second violation occurred July 10 in which the Council convened an emergency meeting at the Town Hall to discuss disruptions during previous meetings. The Council locked the doors to the meeting room and did not allow any member of the public to attend its meeting. Horne ruled that excluding the public from this meeting violated the Open Meeting Law.
A third violation involves the Council not fully complying with the posting requirements for emergency meetings. As of Dec. 9, the minutes of the emergency meeting were not posted on the Town website. The final violation involves the failure to comply with posting requirements for Notices and Minutes.
The Council did not post minutes for the July 10 emergency meeting. In addition, the Council failed to post minutes for a number of its meetings labeled as “work sessions.”
Horne is recommending the Council discuss these issues during a properly posted public meeting, and that each Council member attend training on Open Meeting Laws. The Council will also be subject to oversight by the Attorney General’s Office for a year.
To read Horne’s letter in its entirety, click here.