The minutes to the executive sessions now approved and released are a joke. Click on dates to view the minutes, April 21, 2009, May 5, 2009; and June 2, 2009.
With “joke,” I mean they do not comply with the law, not even close!
Martha Coakley, Attorney General, issued “open Meeting Law Guidelines” that are easy to understand. On page 3, the Guidelines read:
The purpose of the Open Meeting Law is to eliminate much of the secrecy surrounding the deliberations and decisions on which public policy is based. It accomplishes this purpose by requiring open discussion of governmental action at public meetings.I have brought to the readers attention that minutes of meetings lasting an hour and more only state who was present, when the meeting was opened and closed and nothing else. Here is an example, the minutes of October 27, 2009.
The District Attorney has interpreted the term “action taken” to include not only votes and other formal decisions made at a meeting, but also discussion or consideration of issues for which no vote is taken or final determination is made. See New England Box Co. v. C & R Construction Co., 313 Mass. 696, 703 (1943). It would be sound practice to also include in the minutes a summary of each discussion held at the meeting. However, a verbatim record of each discussion is not required. See M.G.L. c. 66, s.5A. If votes are taken at a meeting, the minutes must record each vote exactly as it occurred. Id.The same goes for executive sessions, page 11:
The Law also requires that accurate minutes be maintained for every executive session meeting. The contents of executive session minutes must mirror those required for open session meetings, with one additional requirement: every vote taken in executive session must be recorded in the minutes by “roll call.” See below section entitled “Executive Sessions” on the Law’s requirements relating to the contents and release of executive session minutes.The minutes to the executive sessions in their released and approved form smack the purpose and requirements of the open meeting law in its face! I would also like to point out that the executive session held on June 2 went on for 1 hour and 38 minutes and the minutes only mention one motion and nothing else.
The meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. started after 8:10 p.m. Not enough time for the members of the cable commision to check the microphone. It took another 7 and a half minutes for the cable commission guys to realize that there was no sound. Therefore, no sound for the first 7:30 minutes.
Volunteers for the “Personnel Committee” are sought. The selectboard decided to reconvene this committee during the previous meeting.
March 21, 2010, Peter Frei