Monday, July 18, 2022

Worcester and remote participation

 Something I didn't know but found out this morning: 

Previous to the pandemic, Massachusetts had a law which allowed for remote participation by members of public bodies (city councilors, school committee members, etc) under particular conditions (including a quorum of the body, including the chair, being present in person) IF allowed by the local authority.

In Worcester, this was an executive branch call: it's under the purview of the City Manager. And no city manager prior to the pandemic had allowed for it.

When the pandemic hit, we had emergency STATE action, allowing for remote participation for everyone, including the actual members of the public body. This superseded any local decisions. 

That provision has now been extended twice, most recently when Lieutenant Governor Polito, as acting governor, over the weekend signed another extension to the end of March, after the previous extension expired on Friday.

Because we were living in that grey area for a bit, I asked cityside if we had made any provision for remote participation for the public bodies. 
In answer to my question, I received back this letter through the City Clerk's office. It contains the following: 

In accordance with the regulations, the I intend this letter to serve as the chief executive officer's authorization of the practice of remote participation by members of all city bodies in the city of Worcester. I am hereby notifying the city council, school committee members and all city boards and commissions accordingly.

And thus: remote participation by members of public bodies in Worcester IS now allowed, even if the state provision expires!

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