Showing posts with label Attorney General. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Attorney General. Show all posts

Saturday, May 7, 2022

More Perfect Union: 046 - MA Attorney General Candidates (With Quentin Palfrey and Shannon Liss-Riordan) (audio)

"In this episode, the group is joined by two of the candidates running for the position of Massachusetts Attorney General; Quentin Palfrey and Shannon Liss-Riordan. The two discuss their backgrounds in government and law, the issues facing the Mass Attorney General's office currently, what they'd aim to achieve if elected and so much more. "

Audio link ->  https://more-perfect-union.captivate.fm/episode/046-ma-attorney-general-with-quentin-palfrey-and-shannon-liss-riordan

More Perfect Union:  046 - MA Attorney General Candidates
More Perfect Union:  046 - MA Attorney General Candidates

 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Franklin School Committee statement in regards to OPML complaint

 

https://www.mass.gov/advisory/state-ethics-commission-advisory-11-1-public-employee-political-activity


Based on the foregoing, there has been no violation of any law as alleged by your Complaint and the Committee does not intend to take further action in response to your requests. In accordance with the Open Meeting Law, a copy of your complaint and this response are being sent to the Attorney General's Office. Thank you.



Sincerely,


Denise Spencer, Chair 

Franklin School Committee

 


cc:     Franklin School Committee

Office of the Attorney General, Division of Open Government



Franklin School Committee statement in regards to OPML complaint
Franklin School Committee statement in regards to OPML complaint


Thursday, February 3, 2022

Recap: Board of Health conducts regular business, listens to resident comments on masking

Quick recap:
  • Board of Health conducted their normal business approving minutes of prior meeting, hearing updates from nurse, epidemiologist and inspector. 
  • Winter St demolition approvals in process, other abandoned housing being addressed in coordinated manner with attorney general
  • problem with ordering at home test kits, not as easy as it was lead to be, no date yet for availability
  • multiple residents commented against a mask policy in light of the request at the prior meeting for the Board to consider one.

Board of Health meetings are generally scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month at 5 PM

My notes captured via Twitter during the meeting
  • Real time reporting for the Board of Health meeting underway, #boh0202  Winter St update provided, prior meeting minutes approved (twice, once 2-0; then 3-0; 3rd member arrived)
  • Some audio items on the Zoom bridge worked through to be able to hear folks in the room clearly #boh0202
  • Update from inspections, update from nurse, clinics being worked, COVID is still prevalent #boh0202
  • Epidemiologist provides updates, working on reporting and tracking, new webpage/dashboard being put together, #boh0202
  • At home rest kits ordered from lowest priced vendor, couldn't get ship dates; order cancelled, new being set, no date yet for availability, #boh0202 not as easy as it sounded.
  • Property on Union St being worked collaboratively, police, fire, health, building, Attny General office coordinated - working on abandoned housing initiatives and making progress #boh0202
  • Open to citizen comment, M Benson speaking to mask mandate discussion from last time to raise several issues, #boh0202 mask mandate would instill a sense of fear, not necessary
  • Another citizen, (didn't catch name) anti mask comments, #boh0202 "respect the choice people have" define an exit strategy. D Videra, backing up M and Kevin, also anti mask, tremendous mental health issues, start tracking those in addition toCOVID-19
  • Another citizen, (name missed) complaining that the school committee which is also supposed to be apolitical has members that just endorsed Senator Rausch so that doesn't work and is contradictory with other statements being made #boh0202
  • No hands raised for other remote comments, #boh0202 Board comments, thanks for the citizen comments, good engagement, good commitment, folks need to stay safe and healthy motion to adjourn, second, passes 3-0 via roll call

 

Audio recording to be available in a couple  of days


Board of Health conducts regular business, listens to resident comments on masking
Board of Health conducts regular business, listens to resident comments on masking

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Open Meeting Law Guidance Spotlight: Subcommittees and Sub-quorum Communications

From the MA Attorney General's Office on Open Meeting Law Guidance:

Guidance Spotlight: Subcommittees and Sub-quorum Communications

This month we offer guidance on the creation of subcommittees under the Open Meeting Law, and permissible communications among members that constitute less than a quorum of a public body.  We recognize that public body members want to conduct business efficiently and effectively.  However, public body members must exercise caution when communicating and carrying out the public body’s responsibilities outside of a properly posted meeting.  The Open Meeting Law prohibits deliberation outside of a posted meeting. “Deliberation” is communication among a quorum on a matter within the public body’s jurisdiction.  Because the Open Meeting Law focuses on communications among a quorum, there is no prohibition on communications outside of a meeting that do not involve or reach a quorum of members—as long as the members are not also a quorum of a subcommittee.  Therefore, it is important to understand whether members of a public body may constitute a designated subcommittee.

The Open Meeting Law defines “public body” as any “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.  The Law further defines a “subcommittee” as “any multiple-member body created to advise or make recommendations to a public body.”  Id.  A public body forms a subcommittee when the body formally authorizes multiple members of the public body to advise or make recommendations to the public body.  Whether a subcommittee was created hinges on the public body’s action and whether it intended to create a multiple-member body, or whether it intended to assign the task to one person, even if another member of the public body subsequently volunteers to assist. Therefore, if a single member undertakes a task, or multiple members decide on their own to communicate about a matter or prepare a recommendation without having been designated to do so, no subcommittee is created. Furthermore, the name of a group—whether called a subcommittee, a “working group,” a “task force” or something else—will still be subject to the Open Meeting Law if it is a multiple-member body created to advise or make recommendations.  Even subcommittees that have members who are not part of the public body will be subject to the Open Meeting Law if they meet the Open Meeting Law’s definition of “public body.”

Subcommittees are public bodies in their own right, which means they must follow all of the Open Meeting Law’s requirements applicable to public bodies.  Subcommittee members should be particularly careful about any communications they have with their fellow subcommittee members in order to avoid deliberating outside of a posted meeting, as the subcommittee has its own (smaller) quorum.  The quorum of a public body, including a subcommittee, is a simple majority of its members, unless otherwise provide by law.  Therefore, although it is generally permissible for public body members to communicate amongst themselves outside of a posted meeting as long as the communications do not involve or reach a quorum (whether concurrently or serially), public body members must always be cognizant of the makeup and quorum of the public body, including any subcommittees on which they serve.

Determinations Regarding Subcommittees and Sub-quorum Communications:

OML 2021-176: Finding no violation of the Open Meeting Law because text message conversations did not contain or reach a quorum of the Board.  In all cases, the Board members engaged in one-on-one text exchanges during the meeting.  In addition, we find no evidence of serial deliberation among a quorum of the Board.

OML 2021-115: Subcommittee deliberated outside of a posted meeting, in violation of the Open Meeting Law, when a quorum of the Subcommittee discussed the status of a matter that was clearly within the Subcommittee's jurisdiction outside of a posted meeting.

OML 2018-128: Board did not create a subcommittee where the Board took no vote after one member offered to research a topic and another member of the public body subsequently volunteered to assist.

OML 2017-111: Board did not create a subcommittee where the Board clearly intended to assign a task to one person and another member of the public body subsequently volunteered to assist.

OML 2016-96: Working Group did not create a subcommittee where two members of the Working Group, on their own initiative, worked on projects for the benefit of the Working Group, without the Working Group taking any official action to delegate that responsibility to the two members. 

For more info on Open Meeting Law visit ->  https://www.mass.gov/the-open-meeting-law

Open Meeting Law Guidance Spotlight: Subcommittees and Sub-quorum Communications
Open Meeting Law Guidance Spotlight: Subcommittees and Sub-quorum Communications



Saturday, November 6, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions - how to deal with rising heating and utility costs

The MA Attorney General's Office has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions page on how to deal with rising heating and utility costs this winter.
"Many residents are struggling to pay their bills, including their monthly utility bills. Electricity and Gas are essential services—that’s why it is important that customers know their rights and where they can go for help if they need it."


Frequently Asked Questions - how to deal with rising heating and utility costs
Frequently Asked Questions - how to deal with rising heating and utility costs




Tip of the hat to Tyngsborough for the info links ->

Sunday, October 31, 2021

MA Open Meeting Law: items of interest on public participation and SEPAC meetings

What about public comment, public participation, and public hearings?

"The Open Meeting Law does not require that public bodies allow public comment or public participation during meetings -- to the contrary, the Open Meeting Law specifies that nobody shall address the public body without permission of the chair. However, the Attorney General encourages public bodies to allow public comment and/or public participation when feasible.    
Because the Open Meeting Law does not require that public bodies allow for public comment or public participation during meetings at all, the manner that public bodies may choose to accept comment or questions is outside the scope of the Open Meeting Law.  
Public hearings, on the other hand, are governed by separate laws that impose additional requirements, and may require opportunity for public comment or testimony.  Those requirements are outside the scope of the Open Meeting Law and therefore do not fall within the Division of Open Government’s jurisdiction.  Public bodies and members of the public should consult with legal counsel for guidance on the requirements for public hearings. "

Are Special Education Parent Advisory Council (“SEPAC”) groups public bodies subject to the Open Meeting Law?
"While a SEPAC itself is generally not a public body subject to the Open Meeting
Law, the leadership group may be a public body subject to the Open Meeting
Law. Massachusetts law requires that membership in a school’s SEPAC be
offered to all parents of children with disabilities and other interested parties. See
G.L. c. 71B, § 3. In many cases, the SEPAC establishes or elects a leadership or
governing committee. That group of elected or appointed officers will likely
constitute a public body under the Open Meeting Law, and it is therefore
advisable that such groups comply with the Open Meeting Law’s requirements. 
Now that the issue has been formally presented to this office, and after review and analysis of the applicable statutes and regulations pertaining to the establishment of SEPACs as well as the structure and function of SEPACs, we conclude that the Brockton, Brookline, and Melrose SEPACs are not public bodies subject to the Open Meeting Law. We also conclude that whether a SEPAC’s leadership group is a public body depends on the structure and role of that group.  We find that the officers of the Melrose and Brockton SEPACs do not constitute public bodies;
and that the Board of the Brookline SEPAC is a public body for limited purposes."

Document link ->  https://massago.onbaseonline.com/Massago/1700PublicAccess2/PublicAccessProvider.ashx?action=ViewDocument&overlay=Print&overrideFormat=PDF 


Learn about the Open Meeting Law or report a violation with the Attorney General's Division of Open Government.    https://www.mass.gov/the-open-meeting-law

Learn about the Open Meeting Law or report a violation with the Attorney General's Division of Open Government
Learn about the MA Open Meeting Law or report a violation with the Attorney General's Division of Open Government


Thursday, September 2, 2021

CommonWealth Magazine "Legalization of happy hours, fireworks among approved ballot questions" for 2022

"ATTORNEY GENERAL Maura Healey’s office allowed 17 proposed laws and constitutional amendments dealing with a wide variety of public policy issues to keep moving toward the ballot on Wednesday.

Assuming sponsors can gather 80,239 signatures, Massachusetts voters will be asked in 2022 to decide whether fireworks and turbocharged happy hours should be legalized. They will decide whether retailers should be able to hold more liquor licenses, whether much higher rebates on zero emission vehicles should be offered, and whether to prohibit taxes, fees, and other measures “that would reduce or restrict the supply” of motor fuels – a question filed by Republican Rep. David DeCoste of Norwell that appears to be targeted at blocking Gov. Charlie Baker’s transportation climate initiative."

Continue reading the article online

The Attorney General's page has the complete list of ballot initiatives as proposed for 2022

https://189zzz1i6zsp27269c1jgegd-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Unknown.jpeg
CommonWealth Magazine "Legalization of happy hours, fireworks among approved ballot questions" for 2022


Thursday, June 17, 2021

MA Attorney General: Update on the Open Meeting Law


View this email in your browser
MA Attorney General: Update on the Open Meeting Law
 
Update from the Division of Open Government
On June 16, 2021, Governor Baker signed into law An Act Extending Certain COVID-19 Measures Adopted During the State of Emergency.  This Act includes an extension, until April 1, 2022, of the remote meeting provisions of his March 12, 2020, Executive Order Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law. The new law has two major parts.
 
First, the new law allows public bodies to continue providing live "adequate, alternative means" of public access to the deliberations of the public body, instead of holding meetings in a public place that is open and physically accessible to the public. "Adequate, alternative means" may include, without limitation, providing public access through telephone, internet, or satellite enabled audio or video conferencing or any other technology that enables the public to clearly follow the proceedings of the public body in real time.
 
Second, the new law authorizes all members of a public body to continue participating in meetings remotely; the Open Meeting Law's requirement that a quorum of the body and the chair be physically present at the meeting location remains suspended.
 
The new law provides that a municipal public body that, for reasons of economic hardship and despite best efforts, is unable to provide alternative means of public access that will enable the public to follow the proceedings in real time, may instead post a full and complete transcript, recording, or other comprehensive record on its website as soon as practicable after the meeting.  In light of the various free and low-cost technologies that could be used to provide the public with real time access, the Division of Open Government strongly recommends that a municipal public body consult with our office before determining that it is unable to provide the public with real time access to a meeting. Furthermore, this provision is not available for meetings when another general or special law, regulation or a local ordinance or by-law requires allowance for active participation by members of the public, such as in the case of certain public hearings.
 
All other provisions of the Open Meeting Law and regulations, such as the requirements regarding posting notice of meetings and creating and maintaining accurate meeting minutes, remain in effect. Public bodies are reminded that notice of all meetings must be posted at least 48 hours in advance, not including weekends and holidays, and the meeting notice must clearly specify how the public may access the meeting, whether in-person, remote or both.
 
NOTE: Due to a typographical error in the final draft of the legislation, three paragraphs in Section 20(b) were compressed into one paragraph. Based on the legislative history of the new law and the Legislature's clearly-demonstrated intent, the Attorney General interprets the sentence "This paragraph shall not apply to proceedings that are conducted pursuant to a general or special law, regulation or a local ordinance or by-law that requires allowance for active participation by members of the public" as only applying to the economic hardship exception in the prior sentence, not to the entire paragraph of subsection (b).
 
In partnership,
The Attorney General's Division of Open Government

Copyright © 2021 Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Massachusetts Attorney General's Office
Division of Open Government
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Boston, MA 02108

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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

So the COVID-19 emergency order expired, what do we do for public meetings in the interim?

"The State of Emergency has ended, and the March 12, 2020, Executive Order Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law, which has allowed public bodies to meet remotely and to provide the public with “adequate alternative access” to meetings, terminated at 12:01 this morning. 
The Legislature is actively considering bills that would extend most or all of the provisions from the Executive Order regarding remote meetings. Unless and until such legislation is enacted, public bodies must hold meetings with at least a quorum of the public body members physically present at a meeting location which is open and accessible to the public. 
The Attorney General encourages public bodies to also provide the public with an option to view meetings remotely. Public bodies are reminded that notice of all meetings must be posted at least 48 hours in advance, not including weekends and holidays, and the meeting notice must clearly specify the location where the public may access the meeting."
For more on the open meeting law and updates:  https://www.mass.gov/the-open-meeting-law

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

"The current state of unpredictability has would-be candidates already feeling out plans"

A blockbuster showdown for governor. A wide-open race to be the state’s top prosecutor. A primary between a secretary of state on the verge of history and a fellow Democrat trying to unseat him.

As summer unofficially dawns, each scenario is possible as Massachusetts’s 2022 state election cycle quietly hums to life. It’s greased by uncertainty, and fueling the potential for a gamut of history-making races and possibly, widespread change at the top of state government.

The prospects depend heavily on the decisions of the six statewide constitutional officers. Five, including Governor Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Secretary of State William F. Galvin, have not said whether they’ll run again, and many in office remain undecided on whether to seek reelection, according to advisers and the officeholder themselves.

Continue reading the article online (Subscription may be required)

Saturday, September 26, 2020

In the News: "Two officials charged in Holyoke Soldiers’ Home COVID outbreak"

From the Milford Daily News, an article of interest for Franklin: 

"Two of the top officials at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, where 76 veterans died of COVID-19 during an outbreak in early spring, have been criminally charged with neglect and causing serious bodily injury in a case that may be the first of its kind in the country.

“They risked their lives, from the beaches of Normandy to, some, the jungles of Vietnam,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, in a press conference Friday morning. “To know that they died under the most horrific circumstances is truly shocking.”

Superintendent Bennett Walsh and former Medical Director David Clinton face 10 felony counts each, five counts related to criminal neglect and five counts related to causing serious bodily harm. They face up to three years in prison for each criminal neglect count and 10 years in prison for each count tied to serious bodily injury."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required) https://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20200925/two-officials-charged-in-holyoke-soldiers-home-covid-outbreak?rssfeed=true

Related articles on this story:

Commonwealth Magazine: https://commonwealthmagazine.org/health-care/two-at-holyoke-soldiers-home-face-criminal-charges/

WBUR: https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/09/25/maura-healey-criminal-charges-holyoke-soldiers-home-bennett-walsh-clinton

Attorney General Maura Healey answers questions about her lawsuit that challenges a Trump administration policy that would kick international students out of the country for taking online-only courses at their universities. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt)
Attorney General Maura Healey answers questions about her lawsuit that challenges a Trump administration policy that would kick international students out of the country for taking online-only courses at their universities. (Photo by Sarah Betancourt)



Tuesday, September 1, 2020

“This pandemic ... is precisely the kind of civil defense emergency"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin: 

"With the Supreme Judicial Court expected to hear arguments in a little over a week over a lawsuit challenging Gov. Charlie Baker’s COVID-19 executive orders, Attorney General Maura Healey has filed a lengthy defense of the governor and the legality of his actions to control the coronavirus. 
Baker has been sued by a group of business owners, religious leaders and others over the numerous executive orders he has issued since declaring a public emergency on March 10 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The orders have included everything from forced business and school closures to size limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings. 
The plaintiffs claim that Baker overstepped his legal authority, but Healey argued in a briefing filed with the SJC that Baker acted well within the scope of the Civil Defense Act to protect the public from the coronavirus. 
“The CDA gives the Governor extensive authority to protect the Commonwealth during a civil defense emergency,” Healey wrote. “The Act defines ‘civil defense’ broadly, and responding to the current pandemic falls within its scope because COVID-19 is a ‘natural cause’ that threatens the public health and welfare of the Commonwealth’s residents.”

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)


Related article on the AG filing in support of Gov Baker


Saturday, August 29, 2020

Commonwealth Magazine: "Healey argues that Baker has broad discretion under the Civil Defense Act"

From CommonWealth Magazine we share an article of interest for Franklin:

"GOV. CHARLIE BAKER filed a court brief on Friday defending his use of a 1950 Civil Defense Law to declare a COVID-19 state of emergency, equating the virus to the “natural causes” referenced in the law and pointing out that the Legislature has not balked at his use of emergency powers to shut down the state’s economy. 
The brief, which includes citations to Alexander Hamilton and The Federalist Papers, is the first time Baker has publicly spelled out in any detail his legal authority for declaring a state of emergency. 
Attorney General Maura Healey filed the brief on behalf of the governor in response to a lawsuit filed by a group of business owners and pastors who say the Civil Defense Law is not applicable to COVID-19 and the governor’s many sweeping orders to deal with the coronavirus infringe on powers granted to the Legislature under the state constitution. The parties are scheduled to appear before a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court on September 11. 
The Civil Defense Act of 1950 was passed at the beginning of the Cold War, a time when the United States was increasingly worried about the spread of communism and military threats from the Soviet Union. The law allows the governor to declare a state of emergency when the state is threatened by enemy attack, sabotage, riots, fires, floods, earthquakes, droughts, or “other natural causes.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)  
https://commonwealthmagazine.org/state-government/baker-defends-emergency-orders-under-civil-defense-act/

A COVID-19 testing tent outside the Bowdoin Street Health Center in Dorchester. (Photo by Michael Jonas)
A COVID-19 testing tent outside the Bowdoin Street Health Center in Dorchester. (Photo by Michael Jonas)