January 15, 2005
A Mesa resident locked out of a public City Council committee meeting is claiming the city violated the state’s Open Meetings Law.
Marilynn Wennerstrom said the doors to the City Council chambers building were locked during a meeting of the finance committee.
Marilynn Wennerstrom said the doors to the City Council chambers building were locked during a meeting of the finance committee. A similar situation happened to a Tribune reporter in March 2003, when he was locked out of the building during a police committee meeting.
"It was a total violation of the open meeting law, and the meeting is null and void," Wennerstrom said. "This is totally inexcusable."
Mesa City Attorney Debbie Spinner said a mistake was made, but since no legal action was taken by the committee, the discussion at the meeting will stand.
"If they had taken legal action, it would have been my recommendation to go back and schedule another meeting," Spinner said. "Because they didn’t, it’s not going to be necessary."
Spinner said an audiotape of the meeting is available.
Wennerstrom attended the City Council study session that began shortly after 7:30 a.m. and concluded about 10:30 a.m. The finance committee was scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m., but the start was delayed until after the study session.
During a break between the two meetings, Wennerstrom said she left the council chambers building, 57 E. 1st St., to buy a cup of coffee. When she returned, all the doors were locked. About a half-hour later, Wennerstrom found a city employee to unlock the door and was present for the last five minutes of the meeting.