Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Live reporting: Open meeting law overview

Attorney Mark Cerel provides an overview an update

J. Presentations/Discussions
J. Presentations/Discussions - Open Meeting Law, Public Records, Public Hearings, & Ethics Presentation - Attorney Mark Cerel

Open Meeting Law

Broad interpretation of discussion and deliberation and meeting
especially where a quorum is present

can not use serial communication, one talks to one, one to another and so forth until all effectively we involved.

provides examples of other bodies that have fallen afoul of the law

fines not significant but they can also nullify action

still lobbying for personal fines

person requesting remote participation needs to confirm with the Chair, all votes even procedural need to be by roll call

social occasions are permissible as long as town business is not discussed
need to be really aware of this as folks around can overhear your conversations

workshops are not required to comply with open meeting law

clearly permissable to attend but not participate

definition of deliberation is the grey area

quorum is defined as 5 for the Town Council

Public Records Law

separation of public records from private email is a concern, hence each councilor has their own Town of Franklin email
You can find the info here

"Reply All" could be a violation of open meeting law

Ethics Law

extremely broad, complicated, overlap among scenarios

by statue Town Council can not be "special municipal employees"

statue applies to members of the immediate family

online training and certification is required and in your best interest

there are criminal penalties and hefty fines possible

recusal up front to avoid a conflict, if you do remain in the room you could still be subject to accusation of collusion or conflict

The MA Ethics Commission can be found here

If a councilor recuses themselves, they should also not participate in discussion with Town personnel on that topic

Conducting Public Hearings

you are a legislative body, you can perform some functions that are administrative in nature, a different set of rules apply

important to abide by the role of jury in hearing the matter and then as a judge in making the determination, especially with regards to liquor licenses and license violations

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