Thursday, February 16, 2017
School Committee To OML: Drop Dead
The Amherst School Committee, as expected, voted 4-0-1 to fight my Open Meeting Law complaint stemming from their spirited private participation in an ill fated campaign to sell the $66.3 million Mega School to Town Meeting.
And yes, the three in particular -- Katherine Appy, Anastasia Ordonez and Phoebe Hazzard -- took the time to respond angrily and in an ad hominem manner.
Fair enough. After 30 years I'm used to it. But just for the record, over that time period the majority of my OML complaints have been affirmed by either the District Attorney or Attorney General.
Abstaining member Vira Douangmany Cage asked the three members to submit from their email inbox the original non-redacted emails so the Attorney General could ascertain how many other public officials and school employees took part.
That didn't go over very well. Then she tried to get Katherine Appy to abstain from the discussion/vote since she's been School Committee Chair for the past six years and obviously has a different idea of how public officials should behave.
That too went nowhere. Then she requested the meeting minutes from the most recent School Committee meeting held just one week after the Town Meeting rejection be included in the AG response since it clearly shows the SC acting officially on the Mega School question.
Today my Anonymous source who originally sent me the redacted documents (except for the three School Committee members private email addresses) resent me the same file, except this time it was unredacted.
Names now showing include prominent Town Meeting members, four Charter Commissioners (out of nine) and a bevy of school employees, all using their private email accounts.
But even if a quorum (five) of Charter Commissioners had been involved that clearly would not be a violation of Open Meeting Law since their duties as Commissioners have nothing to do with an expensive new school.
The School Committee, on the other hand, has everything to do with the $66.3 million Mega School. So for a quorum of them to participate in a behind the scenes shadow campaign to push that through Town Meeting is clearly unethical, immoral and downright illegal.
Especially when only one week later they officially vote not to withdraw the Mega School from the Mass School Building Authority program thus delaying by a full year the opportunity to resubmit another Statement of Interest for a new and better building plan.
If the three cheating School Committee members went out for a beer after last night's contentious meeting and raised a glass to my ultimate demise, that would not be an OML violation. But if they discussed how they are going to handle my follow-up complaint to the AG, that clearly would be.
Public officials are held to a higher standard. As they should be!