Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Open Meeting Law: co-sponsorship

Monfredo chairs this committee, Colorio and Foley the other members; Solicitor Moore is here to respond.
Monfredo: asks Moore if a blind copy of all agenda items be sent out on Wednesday to all members so members may then get back to the clerk if they wish to co-sponsor
Moore: that would comply. The essence of this from the Attorney General, who is the enforcing agent...any communication that involves a quorum of the committee that expresses an opinion...then it becomes a violation of the Open Meeting Law

it does put a substantial limit on members of the body communicating outside of the meeting
cosigners to be announced at the meeting
Foley: if Dr. Friel asks co-sponsorships, the agenda cannot list the co-sponsorships. Be announced at the meeting? by the mayor?
Moore: cannot appear on the calendar
Foley: fair for the mayor to announce co-sponsorship...isn't that a majority expression?
Moore: what the AG said...can be announced at the meeting
Monfredo: don't see why we can't have it on the agenda
Moore: AG rejected that, co-signer is expressing an opinion on any item that could be within your jurisdiction.All six members signing on expresses that there is no debate.
Monfredo: even if it is blind...highly conservative on how this would work
Moore: beyond highly conservative...in many ways, anti-thetical to the democratic process. Limited room where any member of the committee may talk to any other member of the committee...tied into serial communication (where one member talks to another, who speaks to a third)
Monfredo: not on the agenda?
Moore: explicitly said that it could not appear on the agenda...could be added to the minutes adding co-sponsors
Colorio: can't even clarify an item with the sponsor of the item, as items will be blind, so cannot ask about it
Monfredo: if I put it forward, you wouldn't know I'd put it forward until that night
Colorio: couldn't ask even that one person about their item
Moore: tried to argue that this has been the practice of legislative bodies for centuries; AG said that we've got new language in the OML. Wayland case...never a quorum involved in speaking on this issue, even in email. Original email went out to all members, even though only three responded, court found that all involved in deliberation. Once it's an agenda item, that's now before every member of the School Committee.
Moore: might have several makers of the same item
Colorio: would it be better to have the clerk read the maker of the item
Moore: a non-committee member would read, by the AG's decision. Clerk is bound now to keep secrets
Foley: some of this is common sense and best practice. If we go this next step...I think that's taking the best step we can take to preserve open meeting law in a lot of ways
Monfredo: we would not know who had filed the items?
Moore: an individual who is not part of the group may make the request for co-sponsorship; "this doesn't say that the maker of the item would not be identified"
Foley: we need to come up with a plan ourselves on timing of this, requesting any co-sponsorship
Moore: "and until they write us up for that, it's legal"
Friel: a cut-off of by the end of the day on Wednesday? or one day?
Colorio: I think we need one day, just to see if we want to co-sponsorship
Monfredo: then by Thursday, it's not going to be published
Foley: it's really what has to be read the following Thursday
Colorio suggests Monday
Friel: Monday would give ample time
Monfredo: sent out on Wednesday, each member decides by Monday (announced by chair from the floor on Thursday)
Moore: that would be fine
Colorio: this will be begin for the first meeting in November

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