Revised format for Selectmen’s virtual Office Hours

by beth on January 25, 2021

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Earlier today, I had posted that residents could bring their concerns to selectmen privately through special Office Hours tomorrow night. It turns out that was a miscommunication.

The Office Hours (with Board of Selectmen Chair Marty Healey and Selectman Brian Shea) won’t be a public meeting, but they also won’t be private. Participants will all be invited into the zoom session, just muted until it is their turn to participate.

The change was agreed on by selectmen to be more accommodating to participants. (Unfortunately, Town House staff promoting the event weren’t initially aware of the format change. The original communications – not the versions above and right – indicated there would be a private connection.)

Recently, selectmen Chelsea Malinowski and Sam Stivers held virtual office hours. At last week’s BOS meeting, Malinowski noted that one member of the public had logged in, but after waiting in the “zoom waiting room” logged off.

Malinowski lamented to fellow members that they had no way to send a message to the waiting attendee to let them know they were with someone else and estimate how long the wait might be. She suggested that if they couldn’t find a means to do that, it would be better in the future to allow everyone who logs in to be admitted.

Board members discussed that there hadn’t been an expectation of privacy at past in-person Office Hours. At those meetings, residents often waited their turn in the same room where they could hear what was being discussed. They agreed that following the same format for the virtual hours would make sense.

Tuesday’s Office Hours will still allow residents to discuss their issues or questions with selectmen outside of the limelight or pressure of a public meeting. (Because there isn’t a quorum, there also won’t be minutes taken and it won’t be broadcast to the public on the Town’s YouTube channel for Remote Meetings.)

However, if you have a sensitive topic to broach for which you would prefer greater privacy, selectmen noted that the public can always contact them individually to talk. (Click here for the BOS page with links to each individual selectmen’s email address. I believe each also have publicly listed phone numbers.)

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