Selectmen attempted to reverse an Open Meeting Law violation this winter. Southborough Wicked Local reports that the state determined their actions weren’t sufficient.
Earlier this year, Desiree Aselbekian filed an Open Meeting Law violation complaint. She alleged that the Board of Selectmen acted improperly by voting in closed executive session on the performance evaluation and raise for Town Administrator Mark Purple.
The board later apologized for the accidental violation and moved to fix it through a public vote.
That vote accepted the increase and approved the previously conducted evaluation. The evaluation wasn’t shared, but the public was notified that they could get a copy through the Town House.
Today, SWL reports that the Attorney General’s office determined that wasn’t enough. The AG’s office found in favor of the complaint:
[Assistant Attorney General Kevin Manganaro] wrote “professional competence” matters with nonunion employees —such as a performance review — must be conducted in open session.
“While it is clear that professional competence must first be discussed in an open session, how that evaluation will factor into a contract or salary negotiation strategy may be a suitable discussion for an executive session,” Manganaro wrote.
SWL referred to a letter posted on the AG’s website. That letter now orders selectmen to release the minutes of the executive session within 10 days.
Because this was not a lawful executive session held in compliance with G.L. c. 3OA, § 21, the minutes may not be withheld in part or whole under the Public Records Law
Since the original complaint was filed, the board held executive sessions to negotiate salaries for Police Chief Kenneth Paulhus and Fire Chief Joseph Mauro. Both were followed with public votes on the salaries and without public discussion of their factoring performance evaluations.
This may be a grayer area, as the evaluations were conducted by Purple, not directly by the board. However, other non-union employee evaluations are discussed at public Personnel Board hearings.
It’s safe to say the violation won’t be quickly laid to rest.
In January, SWL reported Aselbekian claimed that BOS Chair Bill Boland, with 8 years experience on the board, would be familiar with the state law. She alleged the Town purposely hid the raise.
Boland is now running for re-election against Aselbekian and two others. He’s is also in a 3-candidate race for Town Clerk.