LONGMONT, COLO. - Internal emails among the Longmont Housing Authority reveal an attempt to have a secret meeting one week after media attention ended Constitutionally questionable searches of apartments.
Last week, a tenant at the Suites in Longmont contacted 9NEWS about a notice she received warning that management would be conducting monthly check-ins, which said "we will occasionally have K-9 units with LPD (Longmont Police Department) accompany us for purposes of training and compliance. Apartments will be chosen at random."
Longmont's public safety chief found out about the department's involvement after we reported about it, and pulled the plug on the arrangement.
He said the police involvement was to identify people who may be in need of treatment.
He also said officers were not there to make any arrests or confiscate any drugs. No homes were searched with the K-9 in June, but they were at the complex in May. No one was arrested and no drugs were found in those searches.
Through a Colorado Open Records Act request, Next received 265 pages of email from the Longmont Housing Authority on Monday. While many of the emails discuss the searches and the response, quite a few specifically deal with Kyle Clark.
"I just received a call from Kyle Clark at 9News this afternoon, and I would imagine several other board members have been contacted as well. It's quite clear they are trying to make a national story about this. I would propose a quick meeting to discuss the matter. Is there a way for the board to have an executive session meeting without any public notice, so we may talk sooner than later? Obviously, we don't want to break protocol on this. If it's possible, our second floor meeting room is available any time," wrote Longmont Housing Authority board member Bruce Robbins on Wednesday, June 7.
"Think we ought to run this by our attorney. If we give notices for a special meeting you can bet that Kyle Clark will be there. May need to look into protocol for executive session with our attorney so we can assess outside of the limelight," replied board member Peter Linder.
"Let's check with counsel. The Bylaws provide for a special meeting without notice if we have 100% of the Board waiving notice or in attendance," replied board member Cameron Grant.
"Also, we may want to have in place now a protocol for answering any questions from Kyle Clark or 9NEWS. I think a good policy for the time being is no comment. If anybody watched the piece it was incredibly skewed and you can guarantee that if 99% of what you say to 9NEWS is good and 1% is bad, all they will focus on is the 1%," wrote Linder.
Late Wednesday night, the board's vice chairman, Wendell Pickett, wrote:
"I am available for discussion please feel free to call me. I support checking with the attorney on having an (sic) meeting to discuss our response prior to our scheduled meeting. I see Longmont Police have issued a statement and I would recommend that one is drafted by our attorney for consideration by the board with all the facts. We should be prepared for them to attend our Board meeting on Monday and should have council in attendance."
It's unclear if Pickett meant city council or legal counsel.
When reached by text on Monday night, Pickett said "There was no meeting, I incorrectly referenced the day of our regular meeting. It should have been Tuesday."
Pickett texted, "At this time no plan for a special board meeting."
The board meets on the third Tuesday of every month. The next meeting is at 8:30 a.m. on June 20.
On Monday evening, David Herrera, the attorney for the Longmont Housing Authority posted the following statement on the LHA website:
"The Board Chairperson has authorized me to undertake an internal inquiry into both the law and facts involved in the general and specific allegations of potential intrusion into the privacy rights and unlawful searches of private dwellings. I have immediately undertaken the effort to get to the particular facts. This inquiry will necessarily involve looking at confidential tenant information and may also involve confidential personnel matters. This inquiry will also fully cooperate with the City of Longmont's internal investigation.
PHOTOS: Longmont Housing Authority emails reference 9NEWS, Kyle Clark
I have communicated with each and every Board member individually and can provide assurance to the public that this inquiry is a matter of the highest concern and priority for the Longmont Housing Authority in furthering its vital role and mission.
However, because the inquiry may include protected tenant and personnel matters, it is premature and prejudicial to provide any more definitive statement at this time."
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