Two Seek Ruling On Legality Of Task Forces

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Two local media figures are asking the Arizona Superior Court to look into possible Open Meeting Law violations by the 19 task forces created by Payson Mayor Bob Edwards.

Local radio personality John Robert Holiday, better known as Doc Holiday, and Jim White, publisher of the Payson Patriot, filed the petition Dec. 15.

"We had numerous people call us saying that this can't be legal, that they're violating the Open Meeting Law," Holiday said.

The petition requests a writ of mandamus, or a ruling, by a judge on the legality of the task forces. The duo has also requested the reimbursement of attorney's fees if the judge finds in their favor.

Holiday and White have asked the court to order the Town of Payson, the mayor and town council to release the names and addresses of every member of all town task forces, to order the task forces to temporarily "cease and desist" all task force activity until each member has been named, and they petitioned the court to determine whether the task forces fall under Arizona Open Meeting Law.

Among their complaints, White and Holiday believe several of the task force members reside in Star Valley and other municipalities throughout the state. According to Payson town code, members of a board, committee or commission must be a resident of the town.

The petition also notes that the members, at least the chairs of the task forces, were appointed by Mayor Bob Edwards. According to state law, mayoral and council-appointed bodies are bound to follow the Open Meeting Law. White and Holiday are particularly concerned about the lack of public notification, written agendas and minutes.

Neither Town Manager Fred Carpenter nor Deputy Town Attorney Tim Wright would comment on the action. Town Attorney Sam Streichman could not be reached for comment.

Vice Mayor Tim Fruth said he wasn't surprised by White and Holiday's legal action. "I've read through it and I don't know if it has merit or not."

The town has 30 days to respond to the summons.

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