Lewiston City Council clears the air after violating Idaho’s open meeting law

Lewiston City Council clears the air after violating Idaho’s open meeting law »Play Video
Taking responsibility was the first order of business at council meeting.
LEWISTON, ID - Taking responsibility for violating the Idaho open meeting law. That was the sentiment Monday night at the Lewiston City Council meeting.

Reporter Sophia Miraglio learns what law was violated and what direction the council is headed in now.

The Idaho open meeting law was violated and now taking responsibility was the first order of business at the Lewiston City Council meeting Monday night.

"I take responsibility for having an executive session regarding the purchase from another government entity, we should not have done that," said City of Lewiston Attorney, Jamie Shropshire.

Previously the council held a private meeting regarding the purchase of port property, and while the council said it was unintentional, nevertheless it was illegal under the law.

"You're saying here that you took no action," said Lewiston resident David Estes. "But yet here's these figures on a contract you proposed to enter into with the Port of Lewiston."

"There was no intent by the council or in my office to keep anything from the public about what was going on," said Shropshire.

After the council declared that any action taken at the executive session is void. They moved forward with voting on the purchasing of land from the port.

"It says that your going to buy property that's appraised at $234,000 for $600,000," said David Estes.

Council member Clinton Daniels made a motion to postpone the decision until February 10th. A motion that divided the council.

"The reasoning to me councilor doesn't make any sense," said City of Lewiston Mayor Pro Tem, Brad Cannon. "The numbers are not going to change so I think we have to move forward with this."

"I don't have a problem with the concept but what I do have a problem with is the fact that we already said that we made a grievous error at our work session," said council member Thyra Stevenson. "And then to proceed on without the public being able to have a chance to comment on it or even know about it or even know about it. I think is a slap in the face to our citizens."

City Manager Jim Bennett said that while the purchase price is well over the assessed value, it's a wise investment and 40% cost savings.

"The value of that lease, the amount the city would pay over that period of time is approximately $1 million," said Bennett.

Despite push back from Mayor Poole, Mayor Pro Tem Brad Cannon and council member Ohrtman, in a four to three vote the council decide to postpone the agenda item.

Because the council and city staff admitted fault, it prevents any kind of civil penalties from being enforced against them.