Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let the Attorney General decide


Dear Ms. Coakley:

I wish to file a follow up complaint with your office over the manner in which the Amherst Regional School Committee entered Executive Session at their 11/22/11 joint meeting with the Amherst School Committee, specifically, failing to get a "second" to the motion and the motion--at the time it was made--lacked any reason for entering Executive Session and failed to cite the specific chapter and verse of the Open Meeting Law.

In a response to my complaint (that used the form provided by your office) and copied in writing to the Amherst Town Clerk, the Chair of the Regional School Committee stated in writing:

Hi Larry,

I stated at the beginning of the meeting that we would be going into executive session for the purpose of contract negotiations. It also says so on top of the agenda:

It is not required to state it in the motion; it is only required to state it at some point during the pubic meeting before the exec session.

Have a great turkey day.


From: Rick Hood Sent: Wed, Nov 23, 2011 7:44 pm To: BurgessS (Amherst town clerk)

I find that response to be woefully inadequate. Yes, now that I have watched a rebroadcast of the three hour meeting (that was aired live), Mr. Hood did state casually at the very beginning of the meeting that they would be entering Executive Session to discuss "collective bargaining," but over the course of three hours members of the general public who tuned in a few minutes late would not have heard it.

While I have no problem with the reasons for the Regional School Committee to go into Executive Session, I strongly believe that it should never be taken lightly and the discipline shown by using proper procedures exhibits the due diligence expected of our public officials.

Perhaps this incident will provide a perfect "teachable moment."

Larry Kelley

11/23/11 4:54 PM

According to the somewhat newly revised Open Meeting Law I am supposed to file my complaint with you and the town clerk over the incident last night where the Regional School Committee went into executive session without clearly stating the reason for doing so and without a proper second to the motion.

Please excuse the somewhat weird formatting as I downloaded the PDF complaint form from the AG website.

Larry Kelley

Organization or Media Affiliation (if any):

Are you filing the complaint in your capacity as an individual, representative of an organization, or media? Media

(For statistical purposes only) Individual Organization Media x

Public Body that is the subject of this complaint: Amherst Regional School Committee

City/Town Amherst County Hampshire Regional/District State Mass

Name of Public Body (including city/ town, county or region, if applicable):Amherst Regional School Committee, 170 Chestnut Street, Amherst, Ma

Specific person(s), if any, you allege committed the violation: Rick Hood, Chair of the Regional Committee and Irv Rhodes Chair Amherst School Committee
Date of alleged violation:11/22/11

Description of alleged violation: Irv Rhodes made a motion to go into Executive Session "never to return" but with no explanation/reason for the action, and Mr Hood allowed it without having a proper second from another member.

Describe the alleged violation that this complaint is about. If you believe the alleged violation was intentional, please say so and include the reasons supporting your belief. No, not intentional--just careless.

What action do you want the public body to take in response to your complaint? Apologize, promise it will never happen again. After school detention.

Review, sign, and submit your complaint
Read this important notice and sign your complaint.
Under most circumstances your complaint will be considered a public record and be available to any member of the public upon request.
I understand that when I submit this complaint the Attorney General's Office cannot give me legal advice and cannot act as my personal lawyer.

I certify that the information contained on this form is true to the best of my knowledge.

Signed: ____Larry Kelley_______________________________________ Date:___________________________
First Name:Larry Last Name:Kelley Address:596 South Pleasant City:Amherst
Phone Number:256-0491
State:Mass Zip Code:01002

Mr. Hood


Anonymous said...

And so how do you want the chair to announce the reason for the executive session? May I suggest a format that might please you:

Hear ye, hear ye (shouted while standing and ringing a loud bell)- at the end of our meeting the SC will go into Executive Session for the purpose of (now shout as loud as you can) CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS!!!!

You are a fool and a nitwit, Larry. Mr. Hood said, during a review of the agenda, that the SC would be going into Exec Session at the end for the purpose of contract negotiations and he said it in the same tone of voice he uses and used throught out the meeting. What a waste of everyone's time. I wish you spent more time actually reporting on the substance of the meeting - which was jammed packed with alot worthy of reporting rather than this crapola.
It's antics like this that make people laugh when they see you. Do you really think anyone takes you seriously???? About as seriously as Sancho Panza, a/k/a Ed.

Anonymous said...

You just couldn't help yourself. Perhaps the teachable moment could be for you?

LarryK4 said...

Absolutely. I, for one, really want to know if the AG is okay with the casual manner in which a somewhat sacred thing--going into Executive Session--occurred.

I do on occasion stand in for my Chair at Amherst Redevelopment Authority meetings and have taken the body into Executive Session.

I, of course, loudly announced it, made sure I had a "second", and then read AS PART OF THE MOTION the chapter and verse of the Open Meeting Law AND the specific reason (discuss buying property) we were going into Executive Session.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Larry. I'll see if I can find a bell for you to ring as well. That will really be the iciing on the cake of your oh so proper form for going into Executive Session!!!

Did you like my suggestion of using the words Hear ye, hear ye!!!! I would think you would want to adopt that as part of your oh so Emily Post correct procedure!!! Just think how everyone will look up to you when you make it that much more formal!!!

LarryK4 said...

You can always forward your suggestion to the AG's office...but then, you would have to leave a proper name.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that rather than investigate petty things usch as organized crime, or fighting consumer fraud, the AG will welcome such an important and weighty matter.

LarryK4 said...

She though highly enough of these infractions to set up a Division of Open Government within her office to welcome "such an important and weighty matter."

Anonymous said...

Proportionality is not Larry's strong suit.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the failure to have a second on a motion is what the division is about.

Anonymous said...

The failure to have a second on the motion is the one and only thing driving Larry's ridiculous complaint to the AG.

LarryK4 said...

No, actually not making the reason for going into Executive Session part of the motion is my main complaint.

As Ed would say, "details matter."

Anonymous said...

The procedure used at the SC meeting in question is NOT uncommon. Get a life, Larry.

LarryK4 said...

Ah, the good old "We've always done it this way" excuse. Or as the not too bright farmer said when his horse died, "First time that ever happened!"

Anonymous said...

Wake up, Larry!

The story is not about seconding the motion. It's about the botched teacher contract. Management writes the contract language and then discovers, after they offer it to the teachers, that they can't implement their vision, that the costs would be prohibitive.

And now they can't legally get out of the binding tentative agreement.

Fire. Aim. Ready?

Roach Patrol said...

Admiral Rick Hood, "woefully inadequate".

Can't be.

Anonymous said...

Yes, let the AG decide! Decide what? That a procedure was not followed which has no penalty.

Anonymous said...

So, Anon 12:04 how is it that you know so much about the confidential contract negotiations? Or is your comment just your opinion of what is going on?

Anonymous said...

The mountain to molehill quotient here is higher than Larry's usual.

Anonymous said...

Well, all I can say as an employee of a school system that gets audited yearly, and the minutes are requested as part of the audit, we would be written up in their report for this so-called 'minor' infraction. Sometimes details DO matter. It's just that this is Amherst, which prides itself on being loosey goosey, but only when it suits us.