The District Attorny once again rebuked chatty Amherst public officials for using email to deliberate in violation of Open Meeting Law. The email in question from School Committee member Rick Hood opens with "I know this email is bordering or across the line on Open Meeting Law, but I will also say this tonight..." No wonder the Gazette figured it out and passed it along to the DA.
I have a better one, however, but I'm not going to bother the DA--or these days--the Attorney General, since they don't seem to do much. It concerns the same issue which brought Mr. Hood over the line: the Union 26 affair, where Amherst School Committee members are considering leaving the 100+ year old alliance with Pelham because the balance of power is tipped exceedingly in Pelham's favor.
From: Maria Geryk
To: Tracy Farnham, Kathy Weilerstein, Nora Maroulis (Pelham School Committee)
Date: 4/9/2010 11:13 AM
Of course the School Superintendent, who obviously benefits from the Union 26 status quo, was responding to the ENTIRE Pelham School committee about an email from Kathy Weilerstein to Nora and Tracy (there's another violation) suggesting wording of a possible PR response should a reporter call concerning the Amherst School Committee meeting to discuss leaving Union 26.
Now I'm sure if a blogger/reporter called to ask about this they would try to use the old "housekeeping" exemption, whereby a quorum or the entire committee can discuss among themselves "procedural" items.
But since the Pelham School Committee did not have a meeting scheduled and they were simply chatting about a possible Public Relations spin response for the media, it clearly crosses the line.
In fact, Kathy Weilerstein writes to Nora and Tracy (4/9/2020 10:20 AM)
"This looks great, I just have a few small comments. I have put my suggestions in ( ). Are we posting this or sending it somewhere?"
Chair Tracy Farnham responds: "Thank you so much! Wonderfully done! I will keep this on hand in case I receive any questions."
The resolution/statement they finally arrived at after trouncing the Open Meeting Law:
"Unfortunately, we the Pelham Elementary School Committee were not formally notified about the Amherst School Committee's decision to review it's participation in the Union 26, the governance structure that articulates the partnership between Pelham and Amherst elementary schools which has functioned successfully for years. Nor are we fully aware of what prompted the decision to review the partnership at this time. Naturally , it would be our hope that the spirit of fair and balanced partnership with which the Union was created, rather than the politics of the day, would inform any discussion of the Union and its continued success."