Selectmen Vice Chairman Tony Boschetto came under scrutiny in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s decision saying selectmen violated the Open Meeting Law in connection with firing former town administrator Fred Turkington.
Specifically, the decision, issued on Nov. 25, details Boschetto’s actions leading up to the Aug. 26 termination meeting. Boschetto made the original motion to fire Turkington. Boschetto did not respond to requests for comment.
DETAILS OF DECISION
· “We believe that Mr. Boschetto knew at the time he requested this [agenda] item be added that he would suggest either terminating or not renewing the contract of the Town Administrator during the meeting,” the decision reads. That runs contrary to Boschetto's previous assertions he did not know prior to the meeting whether he would move to fire Turkington.
· “Mr. Boschetto appears to have been intentionally vague about the nature of [the agenda item]” the decision says.
· The AG’s office added; “We credit [former Chairman Doug] Leard’s account that he did not know specifically what Mr. Boschetto intended to discuss when he received the request to add this item.”
· “There is a conflict in the accounts of Mr. Boschetto and former chairman] Leard regarding whether [Leard] spoke with Mr. Boschetto about the nature of the proposed topic,” the decision reads.
· Boschetto acknowledged, during an Oct. 2 executive session meeting, that he spoke to Leard prior to the termination meeting about adding the agenda item and an email from Boschetto to Leard that with the subject line, “do not forward or share … I will call.”
· The AG took Leard’s word that he spoke to Boschetto about the item but that Boschetto only said the item was for “possible discussion.”
· “Although [Leard] made some effort to inquire about the nature of the topic at the time it was proposed, we nevertheless find he fell short of his obligation to post a meeting notice with ‘sufficient specificity to reasonably advise the public of the issues to be discussed at the meeting.’”
· Turkington and another selectman, whom the ruling did not specify, contacted Leard to seek details on the agenda item, but Leard failed to issue them, according to the AG’s decision.
The decision also addresses Boschetto’s claim that he could not share information on his proposed agenda item because doing so would violate the Open Meeting Law.
· According to the decision, the law allows public officials to distribute information prior to meetings without actually offering an opinion on them.
· “Thus, while a member of a public body should not discuss matters within the public body's jurisdiction with a quorum outside of a noticed meeting, it is entirely appropriate to distribute documents, such as anticipated motions, to the public body members for review prior to a planned discussion at an upcoming meeting. The law prohibits any expression of opinion on such documents however, meaning that arguments supporting or opposing the motion should not accompany the document being distributed
· Boschetto could not be reached by email or phone this week.