Five remain

Ponikvar resignation renders vote of Library Board meaningless

Former Moffat County Library Trustee John Ponikvar didn't know he would be the subject of a closed meeting Monday night.

If he had known, he could have told the Library Board trustees the meeting wasn't necessary.

He had quit the board nearly two weeks earlier.

The board held the executive session to discuss a breach of confidentiality that board members alleged Ponikvar committed.

The board never notified Ponikvar of the executive session.

According to Colorado open meeting laws, subjects of executive sessions have the right to demand an open meeting.

That right is rendered meaningless if the person isn't notified of the executive session, said Colorado Press Association attorney Tom Kelley.

Nor did the board post the reason for the executive session on its agenda.

It was Kelley's legal opinion that boards have an obligation to post the reasons for the executive sessions as specifically as possible, if the board knows it will hold an executive session before the regular meeting.

After adjourning the executive session, the board voted 3-1 to request Ponikvar's presence at its next meeting. If Ponikvar didn't attend, the board would consider his nonattendance a resignation.

Dave Longwell, board chairman, admitted that the executive session wasn't legitimate.

"That the executive session wasn't legitimate creates a bit of an issue," he said. "My advice to the balance of the board is, because John is no longer on the board, the issue is dropped."

The board will have to review its executive session procedures, Longwell said.

Ponikvar's resignation drops the library board to five members.

"I had hoped that I could make a positive difference on the board and encourage changes that would help the library through the rough times it has had in the past years. Unfortunately, my presence, especially in the past few weeks, has been anything but positive," Ponikvar said.

A letter Ponikvar wrote in November discussed issues raised during an executive session review of library Director Donna Watkins.

After receiving a copy of the letter, Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton moved to remove Trustee Linda Booker from the Library Board. He cited the letter as evidence that Booker wasn't serving on the board with the best interest of Moffat County in mind. His motion since has been tabled.

The Moffat County commissioners lauded Ponikvar as an excellent board member and upstanding member of the community.

They expressed disappointment that he had resigned.

If the board loses one more member, it no longer can vote, Longwell said.

During Longwell's time on the board, membership has dropped to as low as four members.

"It's not a fun place to be," he said.

He hoped that a study of Library Board and employee turnover, to be completed early next year, would provide some suggestions for reducing board member turnover.

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