Craig City Council narrows search for new city manager in meeting that violated state Sunshine Law
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
CRAIG — In a special meeting Thursday, the Craig City Council reviewed candidates for city manager and determined to gather more information about 10 candidates. The meeting violated Colorado Open Meetings Law, as it was not publicly noticed 24 hours before the council convened.
City manager search
During the meeting, Strategic Government Resources, the recruiting firm the city contracted to find a new city manager, presented 46 applicants to the city council.
Candidates were divided into three tiers, based on qualifications. The candidates who best fit the education and experience profile the city is seeking were placed in tier one. Craig Mayor John Ponikvar said council requested additional information, including a video response to interview questions and an internet background check, from 10 of the tier-one candidates.
Of those candidates, the council will select three to four finalists, who will undergo in-depth background checks and be invited to meet the community.
Ponikvar said he was encouraged by the number of quality candidates identified in the search. He added there were more high-quality candidates in this pool than in council’s 2016 search.
“I think we really have five or six top-notch candidates this time, so I’m excited,” Ponikvar said.
He added council hopes to select a city manager within 90 days, which would be early August.
City council is searching for a new city manager after it terminated the employment of former city manager Mike Foreman in March. City Finance Director Bruce Nelson has served as interim city manager since then.
Open meetings law violation
On Friday morning, Ponikvar notified the Craig Press that a special meeting had been called Thursday to discuss the position of city manager.
After the meeting, the mayor said, city officials realized the meeting had not been publicly posted.
Colorado Revised Statute 24-6-401 mandates the council must post meetings in a formally designated public place at least 24 hours before the meeting when more than three members of council are set to gather. Ponikivar said all but one council member, Joe Bird, attended the meeting.
“This has happened before, and we can’t allow it to happen,” Ponikvar said. “We assumed it was being taken care of, and apparently, it wasn’t.”
“It was just overlooked,” Nelson said. He added that the lack of notice was unintentional. The employee was busy, he said, and forgot about posting the meeting until shortly before the council convened Thursday.
“That’s not an excuse. … We have to make sure we get those posted,” he said
The city clerk’s office is responsible for taking minutes and posting city meetings. To ensure meetings are posted in the future, Nelson said that, going forward, multiple employees will be responsible for ensuring meetings are posted, particularly special meetings being held outside council’s regular meeting time. Ponikivar said the employee responsible for making notifications was disciplined.
Much of the conversation about candidates took place in executive session, as it regarded personnel matters. Ponikvar said no formal decisions were made, but council directed the search firm representative to move forward with 10 candidates.
“This would’ve been under the executive session, anyway, under personnel matters, but the public needs to know and has a right to know that we’re having those meetings,” Ponikvar said.
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