Warning: We are experiencing technical difficulties! (Plus, here are some quick updates)

by beth on January 3, 2019

Post image for Warning: We are experiencing technical difficulties! (Plus, here are some quick updates)

Note: The only thing we have to fear is the Warning itself!

As anyone who has been on the site today can attest – the blog is a bit out of sorts today.

I’ve been “chatting” with online technical support for most of the day and am throwing in the towel for now. Unfortunately, a slew of “Warning” error messages in the blog header were caused by tech’s attempted “fixes” to other issues.

Those error messages are now gone. At least, they are if you have an updated view.

Unfortunately, one of my tech issues is that web servers (Chrome, Safari, etc.) seem to cache my header to serve up to you rather than reloading it when you reload a page. (That’s even if you clear your browser caches and cookies.) Based on my past experiences, it could be hours or days before they update the image. (I’m hoping in Murphy’s law fashion that it will clear up as soon as I publish this post!)

In the meantime, bear with me and please ignore all of the “Warning” errors.

On another note – here is a quick update on items I didn’t get a chance to cover today while I was spinning my wheels:

  • Southborough Wicked Local covered yesterday’s Board of Selectmen meeting. Check it out for news on:
    • The increased salary range for the advertised Fire Chief position
    • The board’s response to an an Open Meeting Law Complaint based on an incident between Selectman Dan Kolenda and a resident (Louise Barron) who called him “a Hitler” at a meeting in December.
  • RAP programs January 2019

    (click to enlarge)

    Plus, a reminder that registration is due Friday for the next round of RAP sessions that start next week. (For those of you unfamiliar – that’s Recreation After-School Programs for K-8 students.) For details and to register, visit the Recreation website.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 know_what_it_means? January 4, 2019 at 7:57 AM

Check the meaning of the word, slander – Kolenda’s favorite. It means to utter something false. Is it false that the BOS violated the state’s open meeting law? Is it false that a citizen made such a statement?

I suggest it is slanderous of Kolenda to accuse Louise Barron of slander!

I read his unfortunate comments in the Wicked Local link. He barely admits to any wrongdoing and, again, points the finger at Louise Barron. It is truly (not slanderous) unfortunate that this person still cannot accept complete responsibility for his immature and unacceptable actions – caught on video.

Let the voters issue a KO (knockout) to K-O-lenda the next time he stands for election to the Southborough BOS staff.

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2 beth January 4, 2019 at 9:03 AM

I don’t think that it is fair to characterize Kolenda’s statement based on the summation in the article. Before passing judgement, you should hear them all. (You may still have the same opinion in the end. But the point is to base your opinion on his full statement rather than a brief excerpt from his two minute speech.)

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3 beth January 4, 2019 at 9:04 AM

I meant to include a link to allow you to do that. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UntZFKb6pSU&feature=youtu.be&t=293

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4 Naughtius Maximus January 4, 2019 at 11:07 AM

For balance and fairness, here is the original incident. Roll tape:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF6GQafHGL8&feature=youtu.be&t=9342

The BOS, under his Chairmanship in January 2018, BROKE STATE LAW. IT IS A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD. Mr. Kolenda claims “character assassination.” Where is the “character assassination” in asking that the Board of Selectmen follow State Law? He throws the first punch by falsely accusing the citizen of “slander.”

Also, here is the link to the BOS’s violations of State Law (Two: One for Mr. Rooney, One for the BOS, under Mr. Kolenda’s chairmanship, January 2018) and the ZBA’s violation of State Law as determined by the Attorney General’s Office:

https://massago.onbaseonline.com/Massago/1700PublicAccess2/OML.htm

Select “Southborough” and hit “Search” at the bottom of the page.

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5 David Parry January 4, 2019 at 9:35 AM

This story has been buried in MySouthborough. If anyone was to look for it, they would find no column title. They might stumble on it, but only by chance, half way down a column titled “Open Discussion”, but that has since been deleted. Now it is addressed under “Techical Difficulties” !

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6 beth January 4, 2019 at 10:43 AM

The story hasn’t been deleted. And I am working on the story today. Nor was it “buried”. I just didn’t write a special post about it. Just as I haven’t written dedicated posts on a myriad of topics and incidents that occur at all of the many public meetings in Town.

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7 Naughtius Maximus January 4, 2019 at 11:14 AM

At the beginning of the 1-2-19 BOS meeting, Mr. Kolenda made public comments about his behavior at the 12-4-18 BOS meeting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UntZFKb6pSU

The Metro West News article simply demonstrates on his point of “character assassination” that he continues to shoot himself in his own foot. He is wasting valuable Town time and resources with his tirades, drama, and antics. Enough.

In this citizen’s opinion, he issues a non-apology, really not sorry at all, all wrapped in the American flag one more time. Incredibly, he makes HIMSELF out to be the victim, after he threw the first punch by accusing a resident of “slander” for asking perfectly legitimate questions, all in conformance with Code of Conduct (and not getting any answers by the way!). After seeing this, I can say with no hesitation that he has lost my vote and support for good. He brought it all on himself by throwing the first wrong punch.

He continues to avoid the real issue:
Continually closing down public comment on legitimate business questions regarding Town business and public concern (taxes, town administrator vs. town manager, Open Meeting Law violations). If public comment contains any opposing opinion, he threatens to call the police, while ironically he himself violates the Code of Conduct he cites.

The only thing more disappointing is the Board’s wrapping itself in pleas for “kindness” and a “kinder world,” all while avoiding the real business issues, overspending and a dire budget situation and flagrant Open Meeting Law violations. These tactics are P.R. emotional smoke and mirrors that have no place in a business meeting. These are diversionary tactics that are simply wrong. How “kind” is it to shut down public comment (this was BEFORE any name calling) and then call a resident names(?!), i.e “disgusting?” Does it get any weirder or less professional than that? This Town deserves better.

Come on, how many “ministerial” errors are there, “accidentally” not releasing BOS Minutes (including Executive Session Minutes) to the public? So far there are dozens and dozens of “accidents.” For the working public who can’t attend meetings or don’t have hours to listen to tapes, no access to minutes (for years) that should have been timely approved in accordance with the law is not only illegal, it is a travesty and disservice to the Town the BOS is supposed to be representing.

Those Minutes are critically important to transparency in government and the only way for the public to understand important public matters of impact to them. SHAME ON YOU! FOR THE WHITEWASHING AND THE DISMISSIVE TREATMENT, AS WELL AS THE LACK OF EXPOSURE AND DISCUSSION. Does the public understand what you are doing? Do they know what is the content of those minutes? When do these shortfalls and the important content get discussed publicly? Or does it all get shoved under the carpet?

The persons responsible for this travesty get to speak. However, for the second BOS meeting in a row, no public comment was allowed.

I agree with “Be Best” under the December Open Thread:
“His physically threatening actions, saying he was going to call law enforcement for disagreeable comments and name calling are all far out of line for a public official. Calling for a recess of a public meeting, so recording would stop so he could threaten someone is a direct anger management issue that can not be tolerated. He violates all that he claims to stand for with regards to respectful behavior. This is not the first time he has been disrespectful either, for he has done the same to other members of the public and to town officials. Repeating that you are a volunteer as if that is an excuse for inadequacies in performing the responsibilities of your position is not a good excuse. For the sake of the town and its integrity, he should step down.”

I agree. This Town can and should do better. No more smoke and mirrors, please. Stick to business.

Most importantly: What is in those minutes? They should be listed and posted separately (and/or printed) for the public’s ability to finally review. The content should be discussed in Open Meeting.

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8 beth January 4, 2019 at 11:25 AM

As is also in the story that I’m working on, the approved, released, minutes were posted. 68 minutes from 2013-18 were all posted on the Board’s website. Many have redactions as they still fall under the exemptions, but others are now available to fully read. And even ones with redactions generally indicated the topic discussed (lawsuits, negotiations, etc.)

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9 David Parry January 4, 2019 at 12:01 PM

This story has been buried in MySouthborough. If anyone was to look for it, they would find no column title. They might stumble on it, but only by chance, half way down a column titled “Open Discussion”, but that has since been deleted. Now it is addressed under “Techical Difficulties” !

But thanks for covering it anyway. It is remarkable how many Open Meeting Law violation complaints there are. Has anyone kept tabs?

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10 beth January 4, 2019 at 2:44 PM

Again – it is not deleted.

FYI – As promised I will be following up. But the post is taking me longer than expected, since I need to follow up on a detail. So, I’m putting that on hold until Monday.

Until then, here is the link to the discussion you are referring to. The discussion started under the December 4th open thread with this comment: http://www.mysouthborough.com/2018/12/04/open-discussion-thread-ask-questions-share-opinions-124-2-2-3/#comment-341660

(In the future, please don’t assume I deleted something you can no longer find. Feel free to ask me where it is.)

As for my response to buried – I was responding to implication that I was purposely burying it. Choosing not to take the time to cover something is not the same as actively “burying it”. I didn’t delete it – I just never took the time to dedicate a post to the story.

And commenters like you are free to bring up the topics you want to discuss when I don’t give them the attention you feel it deserves.

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11 David Parry January 4, 2019 at 1:11 PM

Editor,

I appreciate your hard work, and the very many, and difficult, editorial decisions you have to take.

To put this particular matter into perspective, perhaps you might consider an article on just how many complaints there have actually been, about violations of the Open Meeting Law, over the past few years, in comparison to other towns.

Please note that some complaints are resolved by the town’s response (from Town Counsel). Others are resolved by determinations from the Attorney General’s office.

Thank you.

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12 Frank Crowell January 4, 2019 at 3:03 PM

Mr Perry – I’m just taking a wild guess but I’ll bet you know the number. Please share.

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13 David Parry January 6, 2019 at 1:38 PM

No, I don’t know the number. I have no idea if this town is normal, or abnormal, in the number of complaints and violations.

Besides those complaints which have ALREADY been resolved/determined, there is the additional issue of how many compaints have been filed and are STILL outstanding. (i.e. to be determined). It sometimes takes a full year for a case to be determined by the AG.

I don’t know the number of undetermined cases, either. Besides, if I did, and published it, then it would probably not be believed, by some readers. So that is why it is preferable (imho) that the editor research this matter, independently.

Do you agree?

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14 Frank Crowell January 7, 2019 at 9:31 AM

Just glancing at the pending list of open meeting law violations, I would say the winner by a mile is Fall River. Natick should be in the top five. Not sure if the link below will work but on the list you will find a familiar name. If the link does not work, try Google search – you’ll get there.

https://docs.digital.mass.gov/dataset/open-meeting-law-pending-complaints-attorney-general’s-division-open-government

I think Beth does enough work just keeping this blog going.

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15 David Parry January 7, 2019 at 10:43 AM

Thanks for the link, but that lists only the complaints which the AG will determine. Other complaints don’t get that far. They are admitted and resolved at the local level. Only if the complainant is dis-satisfied with the local response does the final determination move to the AG.

16 Publius January 7, 2019 at 11:14 AM

Interesting link and puts this in perspective a bit. it seems the complainants are often the same individuals with multiple complaints which might raise motive issues. Fall River has serious problems with a Mayor facing very serious federal criminal charges.

17 Naughtius Maximus January 7, 2019 at 1:44 PM

The link apparently does not list all complaints. That aside, in most municipalities, it is often the case, at least initially, that those filing might be one or several individuals because that is who discovers the matter. This often happens as can be seen in Framingham and Fall River and many other communities. Regardless, multiple filings are not entirely necessary once the issue is uncovered. The “motive” is to have local officials not break state law.

18 Frank Crowell January 7, 2019 at 4:02 PM

We’ll have to wait for the 2018 report, but this 2017 report has some interesting information as well.

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/01/22/2017%20OMLAC%20Annual%20Report.pdf

Mr. Parry – what you ask for is for an investigative journalist to dig into. Good luck finding one. That profession is not taught anymore.

19 Kelly Roney January 4, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Recently in the news: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/12/10/mass-judge-says-secretly-recording-officials-including-police-constitutionally-protected/4weeStFH3aaJJ10dpm5JJO/story.html

I’d suggest not being secretive about recording and not attempting to record an executive session, which should still be illegal.

Two basic points:
– Louise Barron was out of bounds.
– Dan Kolenda was out of bounds.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!

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20 Naughtius Maximus January 4, 2019 at 4:46 PM

More basic points:
• Under Dan Kolenda’s Chairmanship, the BOS violated state law. It’s public record. Here’s the link to the determination by the Attorney General’s Office:
https://massago.onbaseonline.com/Massago/1700PublicAccess2/OML.htm

Select “Southborough” and hit “Search” at the bottom of the page.

• Dan Kolenda started the altercation and provoked the reaction. When he heard the citizen calling attention to taxes and the fact that state law was violated, he shut down that commentary.

• He BROKE the BOS’s own Code of Conduct that he cites. The Code of Conduct expressly prohibits “unprofessional behavior” and “intimidating” behavior.

• Now he is calling for “civility?” Doesn’t that require being civil in the first instance? Mrs. Barron was polite and respectful until Kolenda crossed the line first with the false accusation. ROLL TAPE: Note how he looks to see if the camera is shut off and then is frighteningly threatening. This is unfit conduct for any public official and violates all standards of professional behavior in the private and public sector.

The massive irony here is he is spinning this in the press like he is the victim. Does it get any more wrong than that? Does this look like “civil” behavior to you? The reader can be the judge.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF6GQafHGL8&feature=youtu.be&t=9378

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21 Publius January 5, 2019 at 12:11 PM

Talking about beating a dead horse. A handful cannot move on. Accusations of OML are the last refuge of those on a losing side. Often an only refuge. OML allegations are abused so often. Small town politics at its worst.

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22 Naughtius Maximus January 7, 2019 at 8:58 AM

Could not disagree more. Those who broke State Law (especially repeatedly) do not belong in public office. They have ripped off the public of their right to transparency in local government. In this case for years. The losers and losing side will be those who did it. The voters have caught on.

What are you talking about “handful?” While “some” officials who have broken the law did get away with keeping information from the public, they would like to minimize the issue and keep the public in the dark. Cheating and breaking the law, depriving the citizenry of information that effects the community (and worse), now that’s small town politics at its worst. Here comes the disinfecting light of day. Brace yourself Publius.

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