North Adams Council, Committee Response to OML Complaints / iBerkshires.com
NORTH ADAMS, Mass .– City council and two of its committees are responding to complaints filed in June about the open meetings law.
The complaints filed on June 30 were filed by council candidate Jennifer Barbeau.
Barbeau accused the Community Development Committee of not filing the minutes and documents from three meetings; the Committee of the General Government for failing to announce that the meeting was recorded and “forbidding” it to record it; and city councilors for failing to file public assembly law and conflict of interest certificates.
The three panels held special meetings last week to respond to complaints. The presidents were not informed of this until the end of the 14 working days to respond.
Vice-president of council Lisa Blackmer at the special city council meeting on Thursday Aug. 19 said she received the complaint at 10:25 a.m. on Aug. 16, almost immediately after the president’s resignation. time, Jason LaForest.
As of Thursday, all but two of the councilors had signed their annual certificates; one was to do it on Friday and the other as soon as they were available. Everything had to be finished by the September 4th meeting.
Councilor Benjamin Lamb said he was “surprised” that the complaint called certain councilors by name when the whole council was in violation.
“The only advisor to actually comply with this open meeting law, a specifically signed document, was Councilor LaForest before he left,” he said. “But not all of the councilors were listed on the document. Very specific names were identified, not the entire council.”
The complaint named Lamb as well as councilors Peter Oleskiewicz, Bryan Sapienza, Jessica Sweeney, Keith Bona, Lisa Blackmer and Wayne Wilkinson. He didn’t name LaForest or Marie T. Harpin.
The complaint against community development was that it failed to file minutes and supporting documentation for the December 16, 2020 and May 5 and June 9 meetings. The committee met on Tuesday August 17 after learning of the complaint the previous Friday.
Lamb, the president, said the December 16 minutes and documents were submitted to the city clerk on February 4, 2021. According to the order amended in 2017, the minutes must be submitted to the clerk within two weeks. following a meeting.
“The delay in submitting these documents was caused by myself, having two deaths in the family and the death of a pet, as well as a concussion that I suffered in January, which has hampered my ability to spend time on my computer for several weeks, ”he said.
The May 5 meeting did not take place because it was posted incorrectly and was therefore postponed to June 9. These minutes were emailed to the Clerk on June 12.
The June 20 meeting was held via Zoom and recorded as were all remote meetings. These minutes and documents were filed on August 10.
“So all of the documents were submitted and all of the meetings except the July 20, 2021 meeting had been submitted before this complaint was filed,” Lamb said.
Barbeau also referred to the audio of the meeting displayed without documentation. Lamb said the audio was posted on the town’s website to ensure people who missed the meeting can at least hear it until the video is uploaded by Northern Berkshire Community Television. The station encountered difficulties uploading videos, he said.
The board approved a rule in March for Zoom committee meetings to be forwarded to NBCTV for public posting online.
Sapienza, a new member of the committee, said it appeared some of the issues had been technical in posting the material. In addition, he said, the new city clerk and his assistant were “overworked” to learn their positions.
Lamb said it was also difficult to transfer the old minutes to the new website.
A member of the general government committee was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting so he will meet again on Tuesday to respond. The complaint had been that Barbeau had not been given the opportunity to tape a meeting because she could not inform the President that she would tape.
Correction: the General Government meeting did not take place on Zoom. This has been corrected.
Key words: open meeting complaint,