City Disputes Open Meeting Law Violation

City Attorney Karl Hall. Image: Bob Conrad.
City Attorney Karl Hall. Image: Bob Conrad.

The Nevada Attorney General’s (AG) office has determined that the City of Reno violated the state’s open meeting law last year when it failed to properly notice a meeting discussing the Park Lane Mall development project. Read the opinion below.

The city disputed the opinion.

“I disagree with the opinion, as I believe it is arbitrary, capricious, and inconsistent with other opinions offered by the Attorney General’s office,” said City Attorney Karl Hall. (The AG’s office would not comment beyond what is in the published opinion.)

A meeting agenda item did not disclose a dollar amount for sewer connection fees.

“The council also asserts that the agreement does not waive any fees or provide financial assistance to the developer but instead allows ‘the developer to pay (or offset) half of its sewer connection fee obligation in-kind by relocating, constructing and dedicating $3.5 million dollars’ worth of sewer and (storm water) improvements to the city’s sewer fund,” according to the AG’s opinion.

It was the lack of disclosure of the dollar amount that the AG said constituted an open meeting law violation.

“The open meeting law requires that an agenda contain a ‘clear and complete statement of the topics scheduled to be considered at the meeting,'” Deputy Attorney General Sarah Bradley wrote.

Eddie Lorton

Eddie Lorton, who recently announced his candidacy for mayor, filed the open meeting law complaint early this year. At the time of the meeting, he protested during public comment about the open meeting law violation. The city re-added the item to a December 2016 meeting, but the AG said that addition was not sufficient.

“Ratification of a previous decision of a public body and/or adding an agenda item to a meeting agenda that does not state ‘for possible corrective action’ does not constitute corrective action,” Bradley wrote.

Lorton said the violation is a continued pattern of dysfunction at City Hall.

“When they did the open meeting law violation originally, I filed a complaint with the city attorney so I could give him the benefit of the doubt and so that they could correct it,” he said. “Karl Hall decided that it wasn’t an open meeting law violation, and they ignored it.”

Lorton said that the open meeting law violation prevented the public from potentially weighing in on the project and the city’s actions.

“It just surprises me the way they decide to go about business down there,” he said. “I’ve never seen such dysfunction.”

While the AG’s opinion found that the city council did not willfully violate the open meeting law, Laxalt’s opinion “strongly recommends that all (Reno City) Council members and staff receive training in the (open meeting law).”

City Attorney Hall said he would ask the council if that’s something they want to do.

“If it is, we’ll do it,” he added.

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About Bob Conrad 824 Articles
Bob Conrad is proprietor and co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company (disclosure: client work includes projects funded by grants through UNR) and is an adjunct faculty member at Truckee Meadows Community College. He is a contributor to Reno Public Radio.

2 Comments

  1. If you really want to dissect the city attorney’s approach to compliance with the responsibilities of his job, take a look at Sowers vs. Forest Hills Subdivision in which Karl Hall represented a fictitious homeowner association in litigation against a residential neighbor to prevent them from constructing a permitted small wind turbine. Hall, in effect, committed felony theft against the citizens of Washoe County since the statutes of Nevada prohibited a deputy district attorney from litigating a private case. NRS 252.070 (4) was a dictate of Hall’s employment, but completely disregarded by him, his attorney wife, the district judge presiding over the kangaroo court, and the acting chief justice (his close personal friend) who presided over the appeal.

  2. This is a great picture of Karl Hall and a clear article about this issue. How about another article on the mayor’s wanting to be a separate entity with veto powers? It is clear there is precedent for this with the Sparks mayor but I wonder about the need for this. Just a thought.

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