CSU lawyers file lawyerly defense in open-meetings suit

In papers submitted to a Larimer court last night, Colorado State University attorneys argue that CSU board members did not break state transparency laws when they voted in private to make board Vice Chair Joe Blake CSU chancellor because Blake had recused himself as Vice Chair roughly a week before the vote.

The Coloradoan:

CSU’s lawyers argue that because chancellor-select Joe Blake temporarily recused himself as the vice chairman of the board during deliberations about his candidacy, the board broke no laws in discussing him behind closed doors.

[In response to a] lawsuit filed by the Coloradoan [the Pueblo Chieftain and the Colorado Independent] lawyers for CSU deny the Board of Governors broke the law… The response was filed shortly before midnight Monday and asks a judge to throw out the suit because there is “no genuine issue of material fact.”

[…]

The suit also accuses CSU of breaking the law by failing to post a comprehensive notice specifying what the board would be discussing during several meetings.

CSU argues that because board members and their attorney didn’t know exactly what they would be talking about before the meetings, they provided as much information as was reasonably possible.

Blake is set to be hired as chancellor of the CSU system in June. He was the board’s vice chairman until late May and helped create the standalone chancellor position when Larry Penley quit the historically conjoined president/chancellor position in November.

In its response to the suit, CSU also argues that because the board took the votes to name Blake the sole finalist in public, it didn’t break the law.

The board first took the votes during closed session, then came out of the executive session and retook them publicly and without explanation or discussion. The board released a partial recording of that meeting after the media organizations sued.

CSU was forced to turn over recordings of the May 5 closed-door meeting to Larimer County Judge Stephen Schapanski. Schapanski is set to rule on the case later in the month.

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