Wayland is shaping up to be the Open Meeting Law capital of the Bay State and one man is driving the way.
The attorney general’s office has issued four decisions about claims of Open Meeting Law violations in Wayland since taking over enforcement responsibilities last July. That means more Open Meeting Law decisions have come out of Wayland than any other community so far.
Further, three of the Wayland cases originated with complaints from attorney George Harris, a former selectman.
So let’s take a look at how Harris is keeping them honest over at Wayland Town Hall.
His most recent victory took place last month, when the AG’s office agreed with his claim that the School Committee had improperly gone into executive session 25 times between June 8, 2009 and May 3, 2010.
Specifically, the AG’s office found the School Committee failed to “adequately state or state with sufficient specificity” the reason for going into executive session. It also found the board failed to conduct a roll call vote before going into executive session.
Britte McBride, director of the Division of Open Government, saved the harshest words in the four-page decision to address instances where the board cited “personnel” as the reason for entering executive session.
“However, “personnel” is not now, nor was it ever, an appropriate reason to enter executive session,” wrote McBride, adding the board needed to be more specific.
The AG’s office also sided with Harris in January by finding the Board of Selectmen violated the Open Meeting Law when it approved a traffic safety certification during an executive session called to discuss litigation.
The AG found as soon as the board decided issuing the traffic certification would benefit their position in the pending litigation, it should have returned to open session to take the vote in public. Instead, the vote was taken in private and not revealed until a month later.
Harris did not fare as well in his first Open Meeting Law complaint reviewed by the AG. In that case, Government Bureau Chief Jennifer Grace Miller sided with selectmen. MetroWest Daily News Editor Richard Lodge blogged about the decision for NEFAC in December.
So will this bring anyone from Wayland to one of the upcoming Open Meeting Law trainings hosted by the Division of Open Government? Here are the dates:
- April 6, 2011 - 6PM-8:30PM at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School, 415 Center St., Bridgewater, MA
- May 11, 2011 - 6PM-8:30PM at Nessacus Middle School, 35 Fox Road, Dalton, MA
- May 18, 2011 - 6PM-8:30PM at Barnstable Town Hall, 367 Main St., Hyannis, MA
- May 25, 2011 - 6PM-8:30PM at Northampton High School, 380 Elm St., Northampton, MA
- June 1, 2011 - 6PM-8PM at Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Square, Worcester, MA