The Arizona Attorney General’s Office has ruled the Gila Community College Board did not violate the Open Meeting Law when it repealed all of its policies and procedures at a December board meeting.
On Dec. 22, board member Tom Loeffler filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s (AG) Office alleging board president Bob Ashford violated the law because he had not given sufficient notice of his intention to
repeal the policies enacted before 2005. Loeffler argued specifically that the wording of the agenda item was too open-ended for a reasonable person to determine the board would repeal all of its policies.
However, after an AG attorney reviewed minutes from the October through December GCC meetings, he determined “that repealing the old policies and procedures were discussed at both the November and December meetings” and therefore no violation occurred.
Furthermore, “repealing old policies and
procedures is the type of action that the public can reasonably expect to take place under the ‘Update of GCC BOG policies and procedures,’ agenda item,” said James Barton, assistant attorney general in a letter to Loeffler.
“To say that I am disappointed would be a gross understatement,” Loeffler said Monday of the AG’s decision.
“According to the AG opinion, a reasoning person would understand that the word ‘update’ would also mean ‘repeal’ of all policies. That’s a real stretch in my books. I have had three classes in the Open Meeting Law and it has always been stressed that the agenda must accurately describe what action could be taken. If it doesn’t say it in the agenda, a vote cannot be taken.”
Asked for a comment, Ashford said the AG’s decision speaks for itself.
“No additional comment is needed at this time as once again, Mr. Loeffler’s rhetoric is not grounded in fact,” he said.
Loeffler said he approached several public service officials, including a member of the Legislature, before submitting his complaint and all agreed that the wording was not clear.
Loeffler is considering appealing the AG’s opinion.
“With this opinion in place, Bob (Ashford) is free to be re-elected for as many terms as he wishes,” Loeffler said. “This could have profound implications for the college’s future.”
Loeffler believes Ashford had all of the policies repealed, including the one that limited a board president to four terms, so he could run for a fifth term.
The board will discuss electing a new president at 2 p.m. Jan. 27 at the Payson campus.