The Quail Creek Technical Review Board is holding secret meetings again.
The board is the team of professional experts appointed by Gov. Norm Bangerter to examine the causes of the Jan. 1 dike disaster that flooded St. George and other areas downstream from the Quail Creek Reservoir. The consultants are paid salary and expenses from state funds.Closed-door sessions are being held Thursday and Friday in the Holiday Inn at St. George, according to an announcement by the Utah Department of Natural Resources. "Panel deliberations" is listed as the reason for the private sessions.
However, the state's Open Meeting Law lists the only acceptable reasons for closed meetings as: discussion of the character, professional competence or physical or mental health of an individual; strategy sessions about collective bargaining, litigation or purchasing real estate; discussions of security officers or security devices; and investigations of possible criminal misconduct.
The closure was defended by state officials as necessary so that panel members can deliberate freely, offering various theories about the cause of the disaster.
However, the preamble of the Open Meetings Law says specifically, ". . . the Legislature finds and declares that the state, its agencies and political subdivision, exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly."
Three other sessions were scheduled as public meetings this week.
Private and public sessions were also held in early February.
"The thrust of the meetings will be to compile and discuss available material and begin work on the draft failure report," said Fran Craigle of the Department of Natural Resources.
"It is anticipated that a final report on the failure and a report on the panel's opinions on rebuilding the dike will be completed during a meeting to be held in Salt Lake City, tentatively scheduled for March 6-8, 1989."