Friday, December 30, 2011

The Attorney General cordially demands


So it comes as no b-i-g surprise that Amherst Regional School Committee Chair Rick Hood trampled yet another Open Government rule by failing to forward to the Attorney General an official response to my 11/23 Open Meeting Law complaint.

After all, in July of 2010--only four months into his school committee tenure--the local District Attorney cited him with an Open Meeting Law violation for deliberating with a quorum of committee members via email.

At least back then he could use the "I'm a newbie" excuse.

Now no longer a rookie, he will have to scramble to comply--no doubt enlisting the aid of $220/hour attorney Gini Tate who already advised ARPS Superintendent Maria Geryk and Human Resource Director Kathy Mazur to ignore a demand from the Division of Public Records to release documents concerning payouts totaling $200,000 to 13 former employees over the past five years.

What does it all mean?

Apparently the ARPS Good Ol' Girls network abhors sunshine. And Rick Hood needs to learn the difference between running a $20 million dollar private yacht company and a $50 million public school kept afloat via tax dollars--the lions share consumed in Amherst, the town built on education.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes. Let's get the town wasting money on this.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I'm secretly hoping the AG fines them like a judge recently did with South Hadley.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Let's throw more good taxpayer money away.

LarryK4 said...

Which of course begs the question: Is there such a thing as bad taxpayer money?

Anonymous said...

All those who see something sinister here raise your hands.

I don't.

LarryK4 said...

Sorry Anon 5:00 PM, I accidentally deleted your comment (still getting used to the iPad2) but retrieved it from my email:


It wouldn't waste tax payer dollars if Rick followed the law. That's all he has to do. Don't blame Larry. Rick Hood is the one breaking the law. I guess if you want to pick and choose which law you obey, that's probably a typical mindset for Amherst. I'd prefer he just followed the law. Then we wouldn't have to babysit him and make sure he does it.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Larry on this one. We cannot pick and choose the laws with which to comply.

LarryK4 said...

And to answer Anon 5:27 PM, I don't see anything "sinister" in this particular case, but I do see it as a pattern of behavior best exemplified by the schools stonewalling my public documents demand (backed up by the Division of Public Documents/Secretary of State) for the 13 cases settled over the past five years at a cost of $200,000 in tax money.

Now THAT reaches the level of SINISTER!

Anonymous said...

Rick Hood did not break the law. He announced
at the beginning of the meeting the purpose for
going into executive session.

You, Larry, are the one wasting our money.

Get a life already.

Anonymous said...

Not turning over documents is one thing, but a dispute over whether he properly went into executive session is another. Just point out that it should be done properly in the future. It's not an issue that should start costing me as a taxpayer money. Jeez, my taxes are high enough without this nonsense.

LarryK4 said...

They two violations are very closely interconnected.

The cost to defend against this one particular case should be zero because all they need to do is to say they screwed up and it will not happen again. I'm fine with that.

But because of arrogance and group tunnel vision they will probably opt to spend money on a lawyer, just as they have already done with the stonewalling of documents that are clearly PUBLIC DOCUMENTS.

Anonymous said...

There's a little matter of intent here, which, yes, is of importance in deciding the significance of a failure to follow the letter of the law.

An earlier poster has it right: this is not something that should cost the taxpayer money.

This is what drives people crazy about Larry: an inability to view issues in perspective, one from another. In the scheme of things, this is a mere dust speck. But it may still be expensive to address.

Mr. Kelley is making accountability unnecessarily expensive here.

Anonymous said...

When has Mr. Kelley ever done what he is demanding from our elected officials: admit he has screwed up and state that it will never happen again? Never.

This is what makes this episode appear to be only bullying of unpaid volunteers doing work that not many residents want to take on.

Anonymous said...

Even if our school committee manages to deal with this without using its lawyer our tax dollars are still being wasted. Who do you think pays the salaries of those who work in the AG's office. Please stop this nonsense, Larry. You are as much of a clown a Ed and Bach.

Anonymous said...

If the town meeting people can get it right, why can't the school committee? And if they need help with following the law, they should ask for it. But because this has been a chronic problem with them, I doubt it's lack of knowledge of the law, it's arrogance on all their part, past and present. It's been an on-going problem.

LarryK4 said...

Anon 11:41 PM,
The budget for the Attorney General's office is set through June 30, 2012. So this particular case will cost taxpayers nothing.

Did I waste taxpayer money having the Secretary of State's Division of Public Documents handle my complaint against the schools for stonewalling on $200,000 worth of settlements-- all of it taxpayer money?

You know, the case where they agreed with me?

(As will the Attorney General on this matter.)

Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous comment about the budget being set through a certain period making that this will not cost the taxpayer anything. With the AG's office spending time on this case they will not be able to do other MORE important work. And the person handling this ridiculous complaint is paid by the taxpayer.
You really do need to get a life.

LarryK4 said...

What a ridiculous dodge to my question asking if I wasted taxpayer money appealing the schools stonewalling of $200,000 in settlement cases over the past five years.

Actually the AG set up an entire new entity--Division of Open Government--to handle cases precisely like this.

The other way to think of it is I'm helping to gainfully employ a recent law school grad.

Anonymous said...

"What a ridiculous dodge to my question asking if I wasted taxpayer money appealing the schools stonewalling of $200,000 in settlement cases over the past five years.

You are the one dodging the issue by changing the subject. This is not about the settlement cases. This is about whether they properly went into executive session. You originally started this mess by claiming that there wasn't a proper second to the motion to go into executive session, and have blown this all out of proportion from there. Since you never admit you are wrong you had to run and file a complaint with the AG. When the AG does review the tape of this, the agenda, etc., it will be clear that you were making something out of nothing. It will be clear to the AG that this is just a crusade by an obsessive personality.

LarryK4 said...

Obviously you are an apologist for the system--and for all I know, a major player within the system.

I notice you still have not answered my question about the schools releasing the settlement documents as ordered by the Secretary of State Division of Public Documents.

Anonymous said...

One can be a fan of the watchdog mentality on this blog, and still think that this is much ado about nothing, at some cost to the taxpayer.

Folks who are on here have to stop and think: our school committee members are volunteers. I understand our neighboring towns have trouble even recruiting people to sit on their schools committees. This is not about arrogance. It's just a simple mistake. That's it.

Mr. Kelley says that he wants to see School Committee members fined for this episode. That's one of the dumbest things I've ever read on here. We're looking for more people to run for these offices, not less.

Anonymous said...

Larry, it's time (almost 2012) for you to realize this:

YOU are a "major player" in this system. You make demands on it that cost US the taxpayers money.

Yes, you are one of the biggest "players" we have. Accountability costs money, as it should. I'm fairly sure that you are not familiar with the phrase "discretion is the better part of valor". There was nothing sinister, or arrogant, here. I invite anyone to watch the tape.

Could we get a little more discretion, and thus a little more valor from you in 2012? Or are you merely "obsessive"?

Anonymous said...

For an absolutely fun blog to read, this is ending the year on a petty, discordant note. Who cares about this?

LarryK4 said...

I do.

It is my blog.

And the main reason it is a fun read is because I'm beholding to absolutely nobody.

Ed said...

I guess if you want to pick and choose which law you obey, that's probably a typical mindset for Amherst.

EXACTLY.

And that was my point about why I really don't have a problem with students urinating on lawns. When the laws that *help* and *benefit* (and, frankly, *protect*) the students are being followed/observed/enforced, then I will agree about the urine. But not until.

Anonymous said...

I pity the people who give up their time and their sanity to volunteer to sit on these committees. Look, you aren't even disputing an issue that has anything to do with the mission of the school committee. You are just huffing and puffing about a procedural vote.

LarryK4 said...

"If you can't stand the heat..."

Actually...come to think of it, Mr. Hood became Chair (with only three months service under his belt) when Chair Farshid Hajir resigned because he couldn't hack it.

And the highest paid employee in the history of the town, Superintendent Alberto Rodriguez, resigned because he couldn't hack it.

And Town Manager Larry Shaffer resigned because, well, I'm not really sure, but it probably had to do with his secretary (who also resigned the same day) and new girlfriend he left his wife over and...

Anonymous said...

You are mixing the volunteers with the paid employees. If you are earning 100 grand plus, that's one thing. But the school committee is a thankless task at zero pay.

Anonymous said...

But the school committee is a thankless task at zero pay.

I don't seem to remember that being mentioned when catherine sanderson was on it...

LarryK4 said...

Indeed. The old "it depends on whose ox is being gored" routine.