Star Valley Councilor Not Happy With County Attorney’S Decision

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Editor:

I was disappointed and quite frankly embarrassed with the course of events leading up to the decision made by the Star Valley Town Council. The matter I am referring to is the mysterious salary increases paid to a prior town manager in Star Valley. My disappointment is primarily with the Gila County attorney’s office. After waiting eight months, I thought we would get a thorough report on alleged violations.

The county attorney informed us he was only allowed to investigate open meeting law and would offer no opinion on other issues. This was disappointing. Concentrating on two open meeting law violations had no particular significance and did nothing to explain why salary increases were given without council knowledge or approval. I’m convinced this report was merely a “token” investigation designed to divert attention away from the real issues.

From the Star Valley Web site, as I looked through minutes from prior council meetings, I found that from Feb. 6, 2007 through July 15, 2007 every executive session was in violation for the same reason given for the two he mentioned — a total of 11. It took the county attorney eight months to find two open meeting law violations. It took me five minutes to discover 11.

Since my main concern was not with open meeting law, I realized we would need a more extensive investigation that would examine the real issues.

The question was simple: How could the town council have authorized all these salary increases and contract changes when we were never aware of them? I’ve never been offered a logical explanation from anyone, including the county attorney.

I fully understand and respect the council’s position to not further investigate this matter. Investigation costs are unpredictable. How much justice can we afford? I find it more difficult than some to put a price tag on justice.

I sympathize with the notion that we should put this matter behind us as soon as possible. I just hope we have learned a valuable lesson and that Star Valley becomes a better place because of this experience.

Gary Coon

Star Valley Town Council

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