Carol Harvey's ouster from state Commission of Indian Affairs unanimously validated

Update: The Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs conference-call meeting this morning was crowded, despite the fact that there was only one item on the agenda. But since that item was the dismissal of commission executive secretary Carol Harvey, there was plenty of interest in how Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia, who chairs the commission, would handle the discussion.

"I felt it was time to make a change based on feedback," Garcia explained. "We want to have a very effective, good communicator in this role who can help us be even more effective dealing with tribal leadership."

The representatives of Colorado's two tribes who were on the call concurred and boardmembers were unanimous in approving that the process of hiring Harvey's replacement go forward. Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, November 23; the job description is posted on the commission website.

In discussing the change, Garcia made it clear that he had talked about Harvey's performance with tribal representatives as well as others involved with the commission. But he also said he had to be "circumspect, since this is a personnel matter that could result in litigation."

For a hint of that, read the earlier coverage.

Original item, 6:47 a.m. November 16: "Personnel matters" are the second item on the short agenda for the conference-call meeting of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs scheduled for 9 a.m. today. And the personnel that agenda item refers to -- ousted executive secretary Carol Harvey -- is already bringing up another messy matter: She believes the set-up violates open-meeting laws.

Harvey shared this claim in a note to the commission yesterday:

There are many members of the public that want to call in for this meeting. If they are unable to do so because adequate call-in time in advance of the meeting is not provided for, it will again violate the Sunshine Act. The courts have held that:

Inaccessibility to the place of meeting is also a violation of the public meeting law (http://administrativelaw.uslegal.com/administrative-agencies/requirement-that-meetings-be-public-sunshine-acts/). Many members of the Indian community do not have telephones or may not have the money to participate in this call via public phone.

In not allowing adequate time for public comment, inaccessibility to the meeting is also an issue.

The Colorado Indian community should not be excluded from a meeting of this import.

The CCIA statute provides as follows:

24-44-106. Meetings -- quorum -- proxy vote. (1) The commission shall meet quarterly and at any other such time as it deems necessary. Meetings may be called by the chairman or by a petition signed by a majority of the members of the commission. Ten days' notice shall be given in writing prior to the meeting date.

Ten days notice has not been given in this matter.

And that was Harvey's complaint before the number to access the conference call was changed yesterday afternoon. Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia heads the Commission of Indian Affairs; his office says it cannot comment on the reasons for Harvey's dismissal.

If you want to join in the meeting today, call 712-432-0900, and use this code: 332600#. The last ten minutes are reserved for public comment.

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Occupy Denver dog leader, Shelby, only the latest real political animal in Colorado."

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