Monday, September 11, 2017

So did Members of the Templeton Advisory Committee violate the open Meeting Law?
While this does not address that question, it does seem to provide some information on the subject of blogs and face book and what constitutes a violation or possible violation;
"The Open Meeting Law does not restrict an individual's right to make comments to the general public."

The following was received via email from the division of open government. It is long and probably not that interesting of a read for most people. It is one of four examples sent to me concerning my questions on the alleged OML violations filed against the Advisory Committee. 

Joslin Murphy Brookline Town Counsel 333 Washington Street Brookline, MA 02445 RE: Open Meeting Law Complaint Dear Attorney Murphy: This office received a complaint from Brooks Ames on May 22, alleging that the Brookline Board of Selectmen (the "Board") violated the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 3OA, §§ 18-25.1 The complaint was originally filed with the Board on or about April 18, and you responded, on behalf of the Board, by letter dated May 5. In his complaint, Mr. Ames alleges that the Board created a subcommittee that did not comply with the Open Meeting Law. Additionally, Mr. Ames alleges that, based on comments posted on a Board's member's personal Facebook page, the Board deliberated outside of a meeting. Following our review, we find that the Board did not violate the Open Meeting Law. In reaching a determination, we reviewed the original complaint, the Board's response to the complaint, and the complaint filed with our office requesting further review. We also reviewed the notice, minutes and video-recording of the Board's March 7 meeting, as well as the Facebook post at issue. We find the facts as follows. The Board is a five-member public body, thus three members constitute a quorum. In the fall 2016, the Board began reviewing the Town's policies pertaining to immigrants and refugees, in particular, a 2012 Special Order of the Brookline Police Department concerning Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") detainers. In January 2017, the Board voted to refer the matter to the Town's Commission for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Relations (the "Diversity Commission") for 1 All dates refer to the year 2017, unless otherwise indicated. FACTS o review and a recommendation to the Board. The Diversity Commission provided written proposed policies to the Board on February 15. On March 7, the Board held a public hearing regarding those proposed policies. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board chair then suggested that the Board approve certain portions of the draft proposal, but leave open the possibility of revising other sections based on the public comment received that evening. The chair suggested that the draft be sent back to the Diversity Commission to incorporate the public's comments. Noting that no member of the Diversity Commission was at the meeting, the chair asked whether a Board member would "lead the effort" to complete the task. Board member Nancy Daly suggested that Board member Bernard Greene lead the effort. Then, as another Board member spoke, Ms. Daly turned to Mr. Greene and offered to help him. While the Board did not formally appoint Mr. Greene to undertake the revision project, the chair addressed him when the chair stated that some sections of the document remained unapproved pending further revision and consideration. Following this meeting, Ms. Daly and Mr. Greene, along with the Police Chief and a member of the Diversity Commission, Tony Naro, worked to finalize the document for the Board's review at its April 18 meeting. Ms. Daly emailed her suggested edits to Mr. Greene, who then made his own changes to the draft, which he may have emailed back to Ms. Daly. On April 14, Mr. Greene published a link to the draft, via the Town's website, on his Facebook page with the following comments: "Proposed policies prepared by Selectmen Daly and me with the support of Tony Naro and Chief O'Leary. Comments/critiques are welcome." Any person with a Facebook account can access this post. Two other Board members are "friends" with Mr. Greene on Facebook. DISCUSSION 1. The Board Did Not Create a Subcommittee Subject to the Open Meeting Law. The Open Meeting Law applies only to a public body, which is defined, in relevant part, as "a multiple member board, commission, committee or subcommittee within the executive or legislative branch or within any county, district, city, region or town, however created, elected, appointed or otherwise constituted, established to serve a public purpose[.]" G.L. c. 30A, § 18. A "subcommittee" is defined as a multiple-member body created to advise or make recommendations to a public body. G.L. c. 30A, § 18. The complaint alleges that the Board created a subcommittee, consisting of Mr. Greene and Ms. Daly, tasked with revising the Town's draft policies pertaining to immigrants and refugees. We find that the Board did not create a subcommittee during its March 7 meeting. Our analysis hinges on the Board's action and whether it intended to 2 create a multiple-member body. See OML 2016-59; OML 2014-63.2 We find that the Board sought a single volunteer to work on the draft. Ms. Daly nominated Mr. Greene. The Board took no vote, but proceeded with an understanding that Mr. Greene would review the draft. During further discussion, Ms. Daly turned to Mr. Greene and offered to assist him. Had the Board formally appointed the two to collectively revise the draft policies, it would have created a subcommittee. However, we find that Ms. Daly, on her own initiative, offered to assist Mr. Greene in carrying out the task. This does not create a subcommittee. See OML 2016-106. Accordingly, we find that the Board did not violate the Open Meeting Law. II. The Board Did Not Improperly Deliberate Via Facebook. The Open Meeting Law requires that all deliberation occur during a properly noticed meeting. See G.L. c. 30A, § 18. The law defines "deliberation" as "an oral or written communication through any medium, including electronic mail, between or among a quorum of a public body on any public business within its jurisdiction^]" Id; see also OML 2016-104 (even the expression of an opinion of one public body member on matters within a public body's jurisdiction to a quorum of a public body is a deliberation, even if no other public body member responds). The complaint alleges that a quorum of the Board improperly communicated via Facebook when Mr. Greene posted a link on his public Facebook page to the draft policy revisions published on the Town website and invited comments or critiques regarding the draft. No Board members responded to the post. The Open Meeting Law does not restrict an individual's right to make comments to the general public. Rather, it restricts communication between or among a quorum of a public body outside of a meeting, indicating that the communicator's intent must be examined. Because Mr. Greene's post was directed to members of the public with Facebook accounts, rather than specifically to the Board, and because no Board member responded to the post, we find no violation. Additionally, even if a quorum of the Board had viewed the post, the link to the Town website could be considered the distribution of a document to be distributed in preparation for the Board's next meeting. See G.L. c. 30A, § 18 ('"deliberation"' shall not include the distribution of other procedural meeting [sic] or the distribution of reports or documents that may be discussed at a meeting, provided that no opinion of a member is expressed"). CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, we find that the Board did not violate the Open Meeting Law. We now consider the complaint addressed by this determination to be resolved.

This determination does not address any other complaints that may be pending with our office or the Board. Please feel free to contact our office at (617) 963-2540.
 Open Meeting Law determinations may be found at the Attorney General's website,

 Since members of the Advisory Committee were expressing opinions on the selectmen and failing to follow their own policies, which are not within the Advisory Committee's jurisdiction, I believe that could be the reason the selectmen abruptly dropped the open meeting law complaints against members of Advisory Committee.

No resignations, no big changes, no Attorney General in Town, nothing, just the sound of silence!

dave smart - wrong again!

Dave Smart - wrong again!

dave smart makes a point of repeating over and over - sort of like a stuck toilet flush with the water going 'round and 'round that it is a few Advisory Committee members who are the problem and they are the reason for Town financial issues.

At the last Advisory Committee meeting, Templeton resident Bernard Heaney took the time to come to a meeting and point out his efforts and frustration with the selectmen and town administrator. He put together 106 pages of information to make his point of lack of reporting by the town accountant and treasurer. Mr. Heaney made the point that regardless of no audits, "there can be no reason why a report of known income and expenses should not be reported at the end of any fiscal year."

That is the exact point current members of the Advisory Committee have been making for at least a year. I have posted that on this blog multiple times. It seems that there are other Templeton residents who feel the same way, the selectmen and especially the chairman, John Caplis, do not see fit to respond to a citizen's questions or concerns.

The above mentioned material seems to point out that it is not just a few vocal members of the Advisory Committee who hold that view, there are other Town residents who feel the same way.

It appears dave smart is wrong again!