Monday, October 2, 2017

OML complaint on the Worcester Strategic Planning Committee

You might remember that I pointed out in August that the Worcester Strategic Planning Committee had an Open Meeting Law problem, a concern that subsequently was picked up by Worcester Magazine.
And then nothing else happened.
But every person in Massachusetts has the right to call such committees to account on such things, so I filed an Open Meeting Law complaint with the committee. I said the following:
Last June, the Worcester Public Schools announced that they would be forming a strategic planning committee. The strategic plan was subsequently announced as forthcoming in the district budget and is referenced in the district Compact. Any such committee, as it is advisory itself to a public body (the School Committee) is itself subject to the Open Meeting Law. Save a single public input session in July, there has been no public notification of any action. Nonetheless, it is my understanding that the committee has repeatedly been meeting both as a full committee and as subcommittees. There has been no public posting of any session; there have been no minutes shared; even the make up of the committee has never been announced. Given the publicity with which the strategic plan was announced, the references made to it in district documentation, the public purpose it clearly serves, it certainly appears an intentional violation.
The filer is then asked what action the committee should take to rectify the situation; I said the following:
1. The committee should immediately comply with the OML for all future sessions in terms of posting, of keeping minutes, of ensuring public access. 
2. The committee should release all agenda, minutes that fully comply with OML requirements, reports, backups, and presentations of both full committee and subcommittee meetings. 
3. The committee should release all communication among and between any quorum of a full or subcommittee that would be considered deliberation under the OML.
I sent the complaint to both co-chairs via certified mail. Both received them before noon on September 20. Under the Open Meeting Law, the committee then has fourteen (business) days to respond.
That expires tomorrow, October 3.
I have heard nothing.
The next step, should nothing occur, is to escalate the complaint to the Attorney General.

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