November 10, 2009 in City

Air agency settles suit

By The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency has agreed to settle a lawsuit out of court for violating the state’s Open Meetings Act in 2006.

The settlement was approved last week by the agency’s board of directors, which had been the target of the suit filed in 2008 by the Center for Justice in Spokane.

The suit alleged that the agency violated the law by reaching a consensus in closed-door executive session on hiring a new director in 2006.

The new director had been on the job for three days before the board voted in open session to formalize the decision, the center said.

State law requires that hiring decisions be made in open meetings.

The agency was found to have violated the Open Meetings Act by state auditors, who found that the agency’s board was not issuing public notices of meetings for subcommittees with a majority of board members present, in addition to the hiring issue.

Under the settlement, the agency agreed to pay the Center for Justice $2,500 and the center’s Seattle-based attorney another $22,500 for costs.

Tim Connor, communications director for the center, said the suit against the clean air agency was among several suits brought against agencies in an ongoing effort to gain compliance with open government laws.

“I’m glad they settled it,” he said.

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