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Gilbert council's emails on contentious logo violated open meetings law, AG says

The Arizona Attorney General recently notified Gilbert's elected officials they shouldn't have had private discussions regarding the town's new logo.

GILBERT, Ariz. — The Arizona Attorney General's Office has determined the Gilbert Town Council violated the state's Open Meeting Law by privately discussing a contentious new logo.  

Gilbert's violation stems from an ongoing civic debate involving how the town was using its funds to redesign the town's emblem. 

Mayor Brigette Peterson was apparently not pleased with how Gilbert was choosing to rebrand itself and asked her fellow councilmembers how they felt about the town's new logo. 

"...there are things happening with this logo that are not appropriate and I'm appalled," Peterson wrote in an email to the council last May. 

Gilbert adopted the new logo -- which consists of three block shapes assembled together to form a "G" -- in 2020 and it generated much criticism from the community.

Some community members were quick to poke fun at the minimalist design by pointing out how it resembled a guy squatting over a toilet.  

Credit: Town of Gilbert
A timeline showing the history of different logos adopted by the Town of Gilbert.

A complaint was filed last October with the Attorney General's Office regarding the council's emails and the agency began a formal review of the logo situation.

The AG's office has recently determined that the council violated Arizona's Open Meeting Law by holding a discussion regarding town business through a private email chain.   

"This email essentially invited the council to engage in a non-public discussion of a matter that could foreseeably come before the council for future legal action," the AG's letter stated.

Gilbert Town Attorney Christopher Payne told the AG's office he had already had discussions with the council regarding the emails and the state's Open Meeting Law. 

The Arizona law is intended to help citizens stay informed on what their elected leaders are discussing or items of business they plan to take action on. Whenever a governmental body holds a meeting, they typically have to send out a notice to alert the public. 

As a result of Gilbert's violation, the AG's office is mandating the town to publish the AG's letter at the next council meeting on May 17.

RELATED: Gilbert council votes to not discipline mayor for ethics complaints

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