Larimer County Judge Stephen Schapanski this morning agreed with attorneys for three media outlets suing Colorado State University, saying that in light of the evidence so far presented there is sufficient reason to believe the CSU Board violated state open-meeting laws when it selected Board Vice Chairman Joe Blake as the only finalist for the new university chancellor position.
The Colorado Independent, along with the (Fort Collins) Coloradoan and the Pueblo Chieftain newspapers, have sued to gain access to records from closed-door sessions the CSU board conducted during the chancellor search. The insular manner in which the search was conducted fueled suspicions, which the rushed selection of Blake two weeks ago seemed only to confirm. Critics speculate the board failed to seriously consider any other candidates and worked throughout the process to install one of its own for the school’s top executive position.
Yesterday, CSU released partial recordings of a key May 5 meeting where Blake’s candidacy was discussed.
The Coloradoan reports that Senior Assistant Attorney General Fred Kuhlwilm, who is representing CSU, told the judge that releasing the recording was in no way an admission from CSU that the board had broken the law.
Kuhlwilm said the board voted to release the Blake recordings to “remove a cloud” over Blake’s candidacy and in an “abundance of caution.”
Judge Schapanski will now listen to the full recording of the meeting and attempt to determine whether the board “took action” on the hire in private session, which would be against Colorado’s open meetings law.