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Utah attorney general reviewing San Juan County open meeting complaints

Arch Canyon within Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County is pictured on May 8, 2017. The Utah Attorney General's Office confirmed this week it is reviewing multiple complaints of open meeting violations by the San Juan County Commission.
Arch Canyon within Bears Ears National Monument in San Juan County is pictured on May 8, 2017. The Utah Attorney General's Office confirmed this week it is reviewing multiple complaints of open meeting violations by the San Juan County Commission.
Francisco Kjolseth

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General's Office confirmed this week it is reviewing multiple complaints of open meeting violations by the San Juan County Commission.

"The Utah Attorney General's Office has been contacted by residents of San Juan County regarding the current controversy about procedures and decisions made at County Commission meetings," said spokesman Richard Piatt. "Our office will review the situation and respond appropriately."

Kim Henderson and other residents lodged online complaints after a May 7 meeting in which two commission members, Chairman Kenneth Maryboy and Vice Chairman Willie Grayeyes, voted to hire David Everitt as interim chief administrative officer. The other commissioner, Bruce Adams, voted against hiring Everitt and expressed his concerns about the legality of taking the vote.

The action was not noticed on the agenda, which media attorney Jeff Hunt said is in violation of Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act.

Maryboy defended his action in the meeting, saying they needed to move swiftly because of the resignation of Kelly Pehrson, who gave two days' notice.

Pehrson was accused of not carrying out Maryboy and Grayeyes' directives. Pehrson, who took a job with the Utah Department of Agriculture and serves as its deputy commissioner, said Maryboy refused to meet with him and other staff and the county government was in chaos.

Everitt, who worked as Moab's city manager, agreed to work for San Juan County on an interim basis.

During that May meeting, Adams complained about Maryboy and Grayeyes meeting privately with Everitt to vet him as a replacement for Perhson and argued the position should be advertised in-house and filled with a suitable candidate from existing employees if possible.

Henderson, from Monticello, also complained in the meeting that any vote taken would violate the open meetings law, and said she had a copy of the law in hand as she spoke.

Grayeyes said the law could be "contested."

Henderson told the Deseret News she and at least 20 other residents filed official complaints with the Utah Attorney General's Office, which are being looked at by the civil review committee.

"I am concerned the open meetings law was so blatantly violated," she said, adding she has complained to San Juan County Attorney Kendall Laws as well.

Henderson, Adams and some other residents also question the county's new practice of passing numerous resolutions as a way to run government.

"I don't think they are collaborating or listening to San Juan County residents and they don't seem to have any regard for policies and procedures," she said.

Laws could not be reached for comment on what action, if any, his office is taking.