What is an executive session? What should be discussed in an executive session and how does it differ from a council meeting? Who should attend an executive session? Have you listened to the executive sessions that have been made public and do you think the items discussed were appropriate? Should staff members be allowed in the sessions when the issues don’t pertain to them, and should they have a say in what is being discussed? If you are discussing a personnel issue, should that person(s) be present? What if you are discussing a citizen, should that person(s) be present? When should executive sessions be made public, and when should they not?

My Answer

What is an executive session?

An executive session is a meeting that is not open to the public of the governing body that may be held only at a regular or special meeting of the state public body and only upon the announcement by the public body to the public of the topic for discussion in the executive session and the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the entire membership of the body after such announcement.

What should be discussed in an executive session and how does it differ from a council meeting?

Executive Sessions include the following 7 general categories. This list is a general summary only – consult the statutes for specific details.

(a) §24-6-402(4)(a), C.R.S., Concerning the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of any real, personal, or other property interest. Exception: Not available where a member of the governing body has a personal interest in the transaction.

(b) §24-6-402(4)(b), C.R.S., Conferences with an attorney for the public entity for the purposes of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions. Notes: 1) Mere presence of the attorney is not sufficient; 2) State topic of the legal questions in as much detail as possible without disclosing confidential information.

(c) §24-6-402(4)(c), C.R.S., Matters required to be kept confidential by Federal or State law or rules or regulations (citing the specific statute or rule).

(d) §24-6-402(4)(d), C.R.S., Specialized details of security arrangements or investigations.

(e) §24-6-402(4)(e), C.R.S., Determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, developing strategy for negotiations, and instructing negotiators.

(f) §24-6-402(4)(f), C.R.S., Personnel matters, identifying the person or position to be discussed. Exception: Not available for the following discussions: 1) to discuss general personnel policies; 2) if the employee who is the subject of the executive session has requested an open meeting; 3) if the personnel matter involves more than one employee and all of the affected employees have requested an open meeting; or 4) to discuss any member of the governing body or the appointment of any person to fill the office of a member of the governing body. Note: Agenda and motion must identify the employee, by name or position.

(g) §24-6-402(4)(g), C.R.S., Consideration of any documents protected by the mandatory nondisclosure provisions of the Open Records Act. Includes: medical records, personnel files, privileged documents, See §24-72-204(3)(a) for complete list.

Executive sessions are not open to the public.

Who should attend an executive session?

Executive sessions are attended by the governing body and those invited by the governing body.

 

Have you listened to the executive sessions that have been made public and do you think the items discussed were appropriate?

I was in most of the executive sessions, and the discussion sometimes wandered off topic.

 

Should staff members be allowed in the sessions when the issues don’t pertain to them, and should they have a say in what is being discussed?

Only if the issue involves them or their department, and there are few instances that do not fall into the realm of CRS 31-4-212 (Council shall not interfere).

 

If you are discussing a personnel issue, should that person(s) be present?

As a statutory city with a strong city manager form of government, there are only three city employees that work for city council

§24-6-402(4)(f), C.R.S., Personnel matters, identifying the person or position to be discussed. Exception: Not available for the following discussions: 1) to discuss general personnel policies; 2) if the employee who is the subject of the executive session has requested an open meeting; 3) if the personnel matter involves more than one employee and all of the affected employees have requested an open meeting; or 4) to discuss any member of the governing body or the appointment of any person to fill the office of a member of the governing body. Note: Agenda and motion must identify the employee, by name or position.

 

What if you are discussing a citizen, should that person(s) be present?

The only instances I can think of where a citizen would be discussed would be these, and the citizen need not be present. If a citizen comes up during an executive session the attorney, mayor or a council person needs to stop the discussion:

(a) §24-6-402(4)(a), C.R.S., Concerning the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of any real, personal, or other property interest. Exception: Not available where a member of the governing body has a personal interest in the transaction.

(b) §24-6-402(4)(b), C.R.S., Conferences with an attorney for the public entity for the purposes of receiving legal advice on specific legal questions. Notes: 1) Mere presence of the attorney is not sufficient; 2) State topic of the legal questions in as much detail as possible without disclosing confidential information.