The state Attorney General's Office has determined that the Farmington City Council violated the Open Meetings Act when it discussed the city manager job search behind closed doors at a meeting in January, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
The decision doesn't call for any further action, noting that the job search eventually was aired publicly when a separate but related lawsuit filed by The Daily Times and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government resulted in opening all applications to the public, the paper reported.
"I think it's kind of a breath of fresh air with all that's been going on with the Farmington City Council," FOG executive director Leonard DeLayo told the Daily Times.
The council closed its Jan. 23 meeting to discuss the resignation of former City Manager Bob Hudson, which was allowed under the limited personnel matters exception to the Open Meetings Act, Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Glenn said in a letter explaining the decision.
But the council broke the law when talk turned to the search for a new manager, including discussion of the job posting, application deadline and whether to keep the applications confidential, Glenn wrote.
The job search was discussed in private in some detail, and while some of the discussion was repeated in open session, according to the AG's Office letter, "This did little to remedy the (Open Meetings Act) violation because the agenda did not list the topic."
DeLayo told the paper that job search procedures are commonly considered the public's business.
"There's no doubt in my mind that one of the most important aspects of searching for a major position like city manager is that the process and procedures are clearly not private," DeLayo said.