Former Glenwood Springs City Council member files lawsuit against city

Tony Hershey speaks at Glenwood Springs Issues and Answers City Council Candidates Forum.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Tony Hershey is suing the city of Glenwood Springs for what he alleges was a violation of an Open Meetings Law.

“I just want government to be transparent,” said Tony Hershey, a former Council member.

City Attorney Karl Hanlon announced the suit at the Glenwood Springs City Council meeting on Oct. 26.

“Rather than simply calling me up and saying, ‘Hey, would you waive and accept service?’ We had process servers hunt down, at their homes, the city clerk and the mayor to serve them with Hershey v. city of Glenwood Springs,” Hanlon said. “I’m not going to comment beyond that.”

Hanlon asked Council to give him the authority to respond and Council approved it unanimously.

The lawsuit is in response to the mysterious departure of former City Manager Beverli Marshall after Council held an executive session on Aug. 10.

On Aug. 9, Glenwood Springs City Council announced a special session to happen on Aug. 10. When they met, they went into an executive session and when they came back out of executive session there was no further discussion or vote.

The item on the agenda for the special session was about the city manager’s contract.

“For the purposes of receiving legal advice from the City Attorney on specific legal questions; determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations; and instructing negotiators, and personnel matters where no employee who is the subject of the session has requested an open meeting, more specifically related to the City Manager’s review and contract,” the agenda states. 

The next day at 10:30 a.m., a response email from Marshall was prompted and sent saying, “I am no longer employed by the City of Glenwood Springs. Please contact Steve Boyd.”

Then at 2:10 p.m. an email was sent out to city staff from Chief Operating Officer Steve Boyd, saying that he was sending out a press release about Marshall. 

“I wanted to let you know that Beverli Marshall went on administrative leave this morning,” Boyd said in the email. “We will send a press release out later today, please let me know if you have any questions or need anything. Thank you.”

Hershey is filing suit because he alleges that a decision must have been made during the executive session for Marshall to be placed on administrative leave. 

According to Colorado Open Meetings Law, votes and decisions must be made in public sessions and are not allowed during an executive session. 

“I couldn’t find any meaning where she was placed on administrative leave,” Hershey said.

There are some exceptions, and when both Hershey and the Post Independent requested the recording of the executive session, the city cited it as “privileged information” under the Colorado Open Records Act.

“Your first CORA request of August 15, 2023 is denied in part, as it relates to the request for the Glenwood Springs City Council executive session of August 10, 2023 pursuant to C.R.S. Sec. 24-72-204(3)(a)(IV) as this record contains privileged information,” said City Clerk Ryan Muse in an email to the PI.

There were no public meetings or votes that happened from the time the executive session ended and the press release was sent out the next day.

The next public meeting with City Council was on a normally scheduled Council night on Aug. 17, when Council announced that Marshall and the city mutually decided to end Marshall’s contract. 

The majority of Hershey’s claims refer to the timelines of Marshall’s last two weeks from the PI. The second timeline published by the PI pulled phone messages from Marshall’s last two weeks.

The lawsuit will go to court on Nov. 30 before 9th Judicial District Judge Elise Myer. During court, Myer will decide whether to listen to the recording. 

As a reminder, all requested documents from the City of Glenwood Springs are made public for anyone to read. This includes any evidence Tony Hershey or the PI have gathered to determine whether Council did break an Open Meetings Law. 

The city of Glenwood Springs did make all pen record requests clickable within less than a week after announcing they would make them accessible. 

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