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W. Jordan Council to decide on opening records

WEST JORDAN -- The City Council apparently will decide next week whether to make public the reports from two separate city-funded investigations of Assistant City Manager Penny Atkinson and Councilman David Plouzek.

Council members agreed Tuesday night on holding a closed-door session with City Attorney Greg Curtis June 22 to discuss the legal aspects of releasing or withholding the reports.The council reportedly met in closed session prior to Tuesday's regular meeting to discuss one more time whether the information should be made public, but it took no action in open session.

An investigator was hired last fall to determine whether Atkinson directed a city employee to pressure Young Chevrolet of Layton into making a $1,000 donation to the South Valley Sanctuary. The report was turned over to the council in mid-February but has remained in limbo since.

The council also ordered an investigation last December into allegations Plouzek misused his council authority to benefit himself and his family. That report also has been turned over to the council but remains in limbo.

Plouzek said after Tuesday's council session he probably will choose to make the report on his investigation public even if the city attorney advises the council the report is protected under the state's Government Records Access and Management statute, commonly known as GRAMA.

The statute provides any person who is the subject of a record determined to be protected under GRAMA can make the information public if he or she chooses.

Curtis told council members he has received GRAMA requests for the reports from both the press and the public in recent weeks and asked whether the investigations were still in progress.

Mayor Donna Evans replied all investigations were concluded as of Tuesday night.

The Deseret News filed a GRAMA request earlier this spring seeking access to the report on Atkinson, but the request was denied on the grounds the document was part of an ongoing probe.

An appeal of that ruling was also denied but has been re-filed by the Deseret News now that the investigations officially have ended.

A GRAMA request has also been filed by the newspaper seeking access to the Plouzek probe results.

"Do we have a problem releasing these reports?" asked Councilman David Newton, who has been leaning toward public disclosure of the documents.

Curtis told the council each report would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

But if the attorney recommends either report should be restricted, he will have to cite other statutory grounds since the investigations are now finished.

The council's decision next Tuesday on whether to release the probe reports will figure heavily into his legal recommendation on their availability, Curtis noted.