Thursday, March 22, 2007

Out of the Chaos

As I said before sometimes you just have to be there, rather than watching from the comforts of home. Now I’m told the Select board did NOT go into Executive Session at the end of that rousing meeting characterized by one of them as “drama in the town room.”

Why the confusion? Executive Session was the last item on the Agenda (but then it’s almost always there). Mr. Hubley made the final motion and used the awkward phrasing “adjourn the Open Meeting of the Select Board meeting of March 19...”

And at least one reporter seemed to think they went into Executive Session.

Still, since my protest to the DA is two-fold and I’m sure that the second part of my complaint is still valid, at least I can’t be arrested for filing a false report.


jpo said...

As I promised in a comment on an earlier post, I've dug through the minutes for all the SB meetings for 2006 and 2007 to count Executive Sessions.

Out of 52 total meetings, they've gone into Executive Session a total of 19 times, or 37% of their meetings (counting the meeting where they went into Executive Session twice in one night as just one time). To be fair to them, a whole bunch of these were last spring, when they closed the doors for nine straight meetings between 2/6/06 and 4/3/06, presumably discussing issues regarding the contract for the new TM. Lately, they've been a lot better, only invoking Executive Session in four of their last twenty meetings. And we have been getting sued a lot, which is presumably why they're so frequently "discussing pending litigation".

Over the last 15 months, the reasons given for invoking Executive Session have been:

--- "for the purpose of discussing non-union employee compensation" - 9 times

--- "for the purpose of discussing pending litigation because open discussion may have a detrimental affect on the position of the Town" - 8 times

--- "for the purpose of discussing the value of real property" - 4 times

--- "for the purpose of discussing collective bargaining because open discussion may have a detrimental affect on the position of the Town" - 1 time

(these add up to more than 19 because sometimes they give more than one reason for closing the doors).

I can't speak to whether or not these constitute an outlier relative to other cities and towns, but it doesn't seem too unreasonable to me, given the fact that they've been dealing with the new TM and multiple lawsuits.

- Jonathan O'Keeffe

LarryK4 said...

Thanks Jonathan. What would be more interesting is to compare a year or two worth of Select board use of Executive Session under Ms. Awad's leadership vs. a year or two under Carl Seppala's back in 2003 or 2004.

Or even a comparison of the current Regional and Amherst school committee meetings during the same time period (after all their empire is larger than the town's portion)