GARDEN CITY — The decision not to penalize Ada County Highway District Commissioner Jim Hansen has rendered Idaho open meeting law meaningless, says ACHD Commission President Sara Baker.

“The Attorney General has basically shown the open meeting law to be irrelevant in the state of Idaho,” Baker said.

Baker penned a letter to the Attorney General on Sept. 12 asking for Hansen to be punished to the “fullest extent” after the Attorney General found he had violated open meeting law but issued no fine.

Hansen’s open meeting violation stemmed from a series of emails he sent separately to commissioners Paul Woods and Kent Goldthorpe stating his conditions for publicly supporting the attempt to raise vehicle registration fees. When the emails were sent, the commission had already approved a November ballot measure about the fee increase.

Goldthorpe would later be faulted for an open meetings violation, as he forwarded Hansen’s email to his personal email, then subsequently forwarded that to the remaining commissioners’ personal emails.

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The Attorney General ruling stated Hansen and Goldthorpe must simply acknowledge the infraction at a public meeting to cure the violation.

Baker’s letter stated that the violation was “incurable.”

She also asked that Goldthorpe be exonerated of any open meetings violation, as she did not feel his behavior constituted an open meetings violation.

“I think it’s pretty clear that no elected official in the state of Idaho has anything to fear,” Baker said.

Baker added that ACHD will likely not continue discussion of the matter.

Xavier Ward covers Ada County for The Idaho Press. You can follow him on Twitter at @XavierAWard.

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