Sunday, August 12, 2007
DA to Amherst: Keep it legal!
District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel spanked the Amherst Select Board for yet another Open Meeting Law violation warning “For the future, Select Board members should ensure that a quorum of its members do not attend and speak at a meeting on subjects about which they may be ultimately called to take a position unless such meeting is posted as a Select Board meeting and the other requirements of the Open Meeting Law are met.”
On August 1, 2007 three Select Board members (of five) crashed a joint meeting of the Planning Board and Town Commercial Relations Committee unannounced. While only two loquacious members—Rob Kusner and Anne Awad—participated, the common sense DA concluded, “Deliberation occurs even if one of the three members has chosen to remain silent. The issue is whether the public should have been apprised that the Select Board would be discussing a matter over which they have jurisdiction.”
She continues: “As a practical matter, enforcement of the Open Meeting Law can not hinge on a retrospective review of the number of members of a Board who actually spoke at the meeting.” Duh!
In my complaint I also mentioned Rob Kusner’s OTHER excuse: that all three Select Board members were attending/acting as “committee liaisons” rather than as individual Select Board members. The DA probably thought that absurdity unworthy of comment.
Since the Charter Revolution succumbed, the sanctimonious Select Board has relentlessly purged any vestiges of that (common sense) reform movement.
Committee members—especially those on the more influential boards—and even town employees (or whatever the town attorney is considered) have been targeted for termination.
The Amherst Select Board’s scheme is to sabotage pro-development zoning articles scheduled for Fall Town Meeting, and they will go to great lengths to achieve that dubious distinction.
The next joint meeting of the Planning Board Zoning Sub-Committee and Town Commercial Relations Committee is scheduled for this Wednesday. Unfortunately, Open Meeting Law violations are not currently punishable by fines, but it’s a safe bet the Select Board will legally post their intentions.