Parry will appeal Town’s OML complaint response

by beth on May 10, 2018

An update on a post from yesterday. I had written that David Parry would not be appealing the Town’s response to his most recent Open Meeting Law complaint. He has since changed his mind.

According to Parry, he had initially taken the letter from Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano to be an admission that the Board of Selectmen violated OML. He decided to appeal after receiving two opinions that the response didn’t actually admit to that. It seems one of those opinions may be mine – from yesterday’s story and a comment today. 

This afternoon, he commented:

OK, so now I have at least two persons reading Town Counsel’s response, and they are not convinced it is an admission of a violation. Personally, I think this is buried in the legally artful language of the last sentence:

“We would recommend, however, that agendas and minutes, in the future, consistently reference such topics”.

To me, this implies that all topics were NOT properly or consistently referenced, in the agendas and minutes. Or, in plain english …. A specific requirement of the Open Meeting Law was violated.

I guess people want to see the plain english version come from the AG’s office. So I have no alternative except to ask for it. And I will.

The text was part of an exchange that began earlier today when Parry commented

you infer, at the beginning of your article, that Town Counsel’s response admits no violation of the Open Meeting Law. However, I contend that a careful reading of his response shows that he DOES admit it, but in typical lawyerly language. See his second to last paragraph. Quote: ” I would recommend …” etc.

If that sentence was put in more direct words, it might state: The town should NOT have done it this way, which was technically a violation of the Open Meeting Law. This was not intentional. The town SHOULD have posted a full agenda and correct minutes, and I recommend that, in future, we do so in all respects.

I you (the Editor) do not agree with my reading of his letter, as containing an “artfully” written admission of a violation, then I ask you to call him directly. If he admits no violation, and you print his denial, then I will appeal to the AG and state that I am NOT satisfied with the town response, and I will request a formal “determination” from the AG, including a clear statement of violation. That is the procedure which the Open Meeting Law specifically allows.

I responded:

it is clear that Cipriano (whose job is to defend his clients, the board of selectmen) did not state that they violated OML. He recommends that they document better in the future, but doesn’t specify that their communications were insufficient under OML.

Instead, he wrote:

We see no intention to neither deceive nor find evidence of deception as the summary of public knowledge on the topic was available, especially if the warrant article was advanced to a subsequent posted warrant which would have elicited additional discussion in public session at a Selectmen’s meeting and thereafter at a Town Meeting

If you disagree – please point out the exact words from the letter that do what you claim.

If you are unsatisfied with Cipriano’s response, that is between you and him (and the AG), not me and him. (I hardly think I’m going to get a clearer admission of wrong actions by the board from the lawyer whose job it is to protect them.)

 

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