The Town issued and shared its official response to David Parry’s complaint of an Open Meeting Law violation.
On Wednesday, Parry was emailed the written opinion of Town Counsel that the Board of Selectmen, Chair Dan Kolenda, and Town employees didn’t violate the law.
The opinion came with a letter from Town Administrator Mark Purple. In it he defended the August letter to Parry as issued based on complaints and concerns of Town employees. (Parry’s complaint included the claim that the letter was issued based on Kolenda’s personal spite towards him and political motivations.)
As reiterated in the opinion from Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano, Parry wasn’t banned from the Town House. The letter specified that to meet with Town officials and employees he would have to schedule appointments.
It stated that was to stop the “continuous issue of Mr. Parry’s unscheduled visits and conduct during those visits at Town offices”. And it pointed out:
On a day-to – day basis, he would still be able to conduct his personal Town business and attend Town Board meetings (a carefully intended distinction in the letter).
Counsel also denied Parry’s claims communications behind the letter violated Open Meeting Law. Cipriano justified that the Town Administrator and the BOS Chair were responsible for the “day-to-day management of Town affairs”. He provides justification for communications between Purple, Kolenda and the Police Chief.
I didn’t see specific mention of the purported communications between Kolenda and other selectmen around the letter. (Those had been called out in Parry’s complaint as grounds that they unlawfully deliberated without proper notice.)
It’s doubtful that the Town’s communication lays the issue to rest.
Parry had made clear in past communications that he expected the Attorney General to have the ultimate say on the matter. His stated intent was filing the complaint with the AG’s office. First filing with the accused public body is part of the process required by the AG.
The Town’s communication was forwarded to me by Purple yesterday evening, apparently at Kolenda’s request. Purple’s letter stated:
On behalf of the Board of Selectmen, attached is the opinion of Town Counsel Aldo Cipriano in response to your OML complaint against Mr. Kolenda, dated November 28, 2017. Mr. Cipriano finds no merit in your complaint, and that Mr. Kolenda’s actions did not violate the OML statute.
Further, the August 21, 2017 letter that was issued to you by Mr. Kolenda was done as the result of multiple complaints filed with the Police Department concerning your actions, as well as similar concerns from Town officials and employees.
The attached letter from Cipriano stated:
We have been asked to address a recent lengthy email correspondence from a Mr. David Parry as to a purportedly filed complaint with the Attorney General’s (OML) Open Government Division in conjunction with an official correspondence sent by the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen as the Town’s Chief Executive Officer relative to public safety and security concerns as to Mr. Parry’s continuous unscheduled visits with certain Town officials and employees.
In this regard, we offer the following analysis of the legal and administrative basis of that correspondence.
Apparently, there was a continuous issue of Mr. Parry’s unscheduled visits and conduct during those visits at Town offices. Under the Town Code, Chapter 27, Article IX, Section 27-25 thereof, summarily, the Town Administrator shall act as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Town, ultimately responsible to the Board of Selectmen and particularly its Chairman for the day-to-day management of Town affairs.
Further, under Section 27-26(A), the Town Administrator, as agent to the Board, shall be responsible for the efficient administration of all departments and personnel under Board jurisdiction and in conjunction with other agencies of the Town.
The overview of intent of this comprehensive By-law, which we previously helped create, is that the Town Administrator shall be responsible for the efficient day-to-day activities of agencies in Town buildings specifically the seat of government: the Town House. Implicitly, he is also responsible for the safety and security of officials and employees in that regard.
By historical practice and procedure, the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen is the CEO of the Town on a day-to-day basis. Between the Town Administrator and Chairman, they have the inherent duty and responsibility to coordinate efficient daily government activities, particularly as to the safety and well being of Town officials and employees.
Furthermore, the Town Administrator and Chairman in conjunction with the advice and/or involvement of the Police Chief and Town Counsel are not a public body and can consult on public safety and legal matters as needed. We see no violation of the Open Meeting Law.
The August 21, 2017 letter to Mr. Parry merely informed him that given issues that occurred, he would have to make scheduled appointments with Town officials and employees. On a day-to – day basis, he would still be able to conduct his personal Town business and attend Town Board meetings (a carefully intended distinction in the letter).
We are aware of the intent of the letter and see no evidence of harassment. The correspondence was issued solely to maintain orderly administration in the Town House and to mitigate any safety or security issues for Town officials and employees.
You can see the documents here: