The Wayland Finance Committee violated the Open Meeting Law last year by exchanging opinions over email and not responding to an Open Meeting Complaint, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
The AG’s office, in an Aug. 26 letter, concluded the committee illegally exchanged their opinions on a proposed warrant article through several email discussions.
It also said the committee broke the law by failing to responding to complainant George Harris’s complaint, despite the AG giving the committee a time extension.
The email discussion were about a proposed warrant article for the October 2012 Special Town Meeting.
Harris filed the complaint with the committee on Oct. 9 2012 alleging the email-related violations. Under the law, the committee had 14 days to respond to Harris. However, at the committee’s request, the AG’s office granted the committee an extension until Nov. 15 to respond. The committee never responded.
HOW THE VIOLATION HAPPENED
· On Sept. 9, 2012, committee member Cherry Karlson emailed draft minutes of the group‘s Sept. 5 meeting to the remaining members. The committee approved the minutes during a Sept. 10 open session. This action, the AG's office wrote, was not a violation.
· However, prior to Sept. 10, committee member David Gutschenritter emailed chairman Thomas Greenaway with comments on a proposed town meeting article. The pair exchanged multiple emails on the subject.
· On Sept. 10, Karlson emailed the committee with her own comments on the proposed article.
· According the Open Meeting Law, which is intended to make government more transparent, deliberation of a subject over email between a quorum of members is a violation. Deliberating must be done in public.
· As a result of the violations, the AG’s office ordered the committee to comply with the law in the future and that future violations could be considered as evidence of an intentional violation.