Friday, March 10, 2006

Potential New Open Meeting Law at State House

The legislature is thinking of trying to make the Open Meeting Law stronger. A first draft of their proposal is below. They have asked for input from me and many other constituents. My first reading of this proposal is that it doesn't address the core issues of timeliness and accountability. In fact, it maybe construed as another source of hack jobs, and another layer of insulation for elected officials.

Kevin



An Act TO FURTHER ENFORCE THE OPEN MEETING LAW.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the
authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. Section 11A1/2 of chapter 30A is hereby amended by adding the following:
Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the Office of Public Accountability (“the Office”) is hereby created within the office of the attorney general. The Office shall be governed by a board of advisers, known as the Open Meeting Law Board (“the Board”). The Board shall consist of 4 persons to be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be the president of the Massachusetts Municipal Association or a designee, 1 of whom shall be the president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association or a designee, and 1 of whom shall be the president of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association or a designee; 1 person to be appointed by the secretary of the commonwealth; and 2 persons to be appointed by the attorney general, 1 of whom shall be a member of a public employee union and 1 of whom shall serve as chair of the Board.
The terms of the members appointed shall be 3 years.
The Board shall review all complaints of violations of the open meeting law. The Board shall refer complaints of violations of the open meeting law against local governmental bodies to the appropriate district attorney within ten days of receiving the complaint. The Board shall direct the attorney general to investigate any complaints of violations of the open meeting law by state agencies. The Board shall receive a status report of any investigation conducted by the office of the attorney general or the appropriate district attorney within ninety days of the date the complaint was referred.
The Board shall also create educational materials to be made available to local officials in order to foster awareness and compliance with the open meeting law.
The Board shall report annually to the clerks of the senate and house of representatives and the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight a list of all allegations investigated by the Board, including the name of the governing body investigated, the location of the governing body, the date of the violation, and the type of violation alleged.
SECTION 2. Section 23A of chapter 39 is hereby amended by striking the following words from the definition of “deliberation”:
“Deliberation”, an exchange between a quorum of members of a governmental body attempting to arrive at a decision on any public business within its jurisdiction.
And be further amended by striking the definition of “meeting” and inserting in its place the following:
“Meeting”, any corporal convening, or any other real-time electronic convening including but not limited to video, telephone or web conferencing, and deliberation of a governmental body for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision at which any public business or public policy matter over which the governmental body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power is discussed or considered; but shall not include any on-site inspection of any project or program.
SECTION 3. Section 11A of chapter 30A are hereby amended by striking the definition of “deliberation” and inserting in its place the following:
“Deliberation”, an exchange between a quorum of members of a governmental body attempting to arrive at a decision on any public business within its jurisdiction.
And be further amended by striking the definition of “meeting” and inserting in its place the following:
“Meeting”, any corporal convening, or any other real-time electronic convening including but not limited to video, telephone or web conferencing, and deliberation of a governmental body for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision at which any public business or public policy matter over which the governmental body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power is discussed or considered; but shall not include any on-site inspection of any project or program.
SECTION 4. Section 23B of chapter 39 is hereby amended by striking the following:
“(8) To consider and interview applicants for employment by a preliminary screening committee or a subcommittee appointed by a governmental body if an open meeting will have a detrimental effect in obtaining qualified applicants; provided, however, that this clause shall not apply to any meeting, including meetings of a preliminary screening committee or a subcommittee appointed by a governmental body, to consider and interview applicants who have passed a prior preliminary screening.”
And inserting in its place the following:
“(8) To consider and interview applicants for employment only during the preliminary interviewing process. All interviews after the first interview shall be open to the public.”
SECTION 5. Section 23B of chapter 39 is hereby amended by inserting after the word “attend” in the first paragraph, the following: “witness, or view, as applicable.”
SECTION 6. Section 11A ½ of chapter 30A is hereby amended by inserting after the word “attend” in the first paragraph, the following: “witness, or view, as applicable.”
SECTION 7. Section 23B of Chapter 39 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2002 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking the 14th paragraph and inserting in its place the following paragraph:—
The court may impose a civil fine against the governmental body of up to $1,000 and a civil fine of up to $500 against each attending member of the governmental body for each meeting held in violation of this section. The fine shall not be imposed against any member of the governmental body who is recorded in opposition to the government act that is found in violation of the open meeting law. In addition, the court may assess reasonable attorney’s fees and costs against such governmental body where the court finds that:
after receiving notice of the filing of a complaint authorized by this section, the governmental body opens to the public any meeting or opens to the public the records of any such meeting, and
the requested meeting or public record are described in the complaint, and
the requested meeting or public record had been requested in writing by the complainant before filing the complaint, and
before the complaint was filed, the governmental body or custodian of the record had refused to open to the public the requested meeting or to make the requested public record available to the complainant.
SECTION 8. Section 11A ½ of Chapter 30A, of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2002 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding thereto as the last paragraph reading as follows:
The court may impose a civil fine against the governmental body of up to $1,000 and a civil fine of up to $500 against each attending member of the governmental body for each meeting held in violation of this section. The fine shall not be imposed against any member of the governmental body who is recorded in opposition to the government act that is found in violation of the open meeting law. In addition, the court may assess reasonable attorney’s fees and costs against such governmental body where the count finds that:
after receiving notice of the filing of a complaint authorized by this section, the governmental body opens to the public any meeting or opens to the public the records of any such meeting, and
the requested meeting or public record are described in the complaint, and
the requested meeting or public record had been requested in writing by the complainant before filing the complaint, and
before the complaint was filed, the governmental body or custodian of the record had refused to open to the public the requested meeting or to make the requested public record available to the complainant.
SECTION 9. Section 23B of chapter 39 of the general laws is hereby amended in the sixth paragraph, by inserting after the words “time and place of such meeting” the following words:-
“, and the agenda for such meeting or a list of items to be discussed, if such agenda or items have been determined by the time of the posting”.
SECTION 10. Section 11A ½ of chapter 30A of the general laws is hereby amended in the sixth paragraph, by inserting after the words “time and place of such meeting” the following words:-
“, and the agenda for such meeting or a list of items to be discussed, if such agenda or items have been determined by the time of the posting”.
SECTION 11. Section 23B of chapter 39 is hereby amended by striking the following: “No quorum of a governmental body shall meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter except as provided by this section.”
And inserting in its place: “No quorum of a governmental body shall meet, by any means, in private nor communicate by electronic mail or other electronic means for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter except as provided by this section.”
SECTION 12. Section 11A1/2 of chapter 30A is hereby amended by striking the following: “No quorum of a governmental body shall meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter except as provided by this section.”
And inserting in its place: “No quorum of a governmental body shall meet, by any means, in private nor communicate by electronic mail or other electronic means for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter except as provided by this section.”

2 comments:

the sak said...

Please send by email dsaklad@zurich.csail.mit.edu the current or previous listing indicated under Rule 45.

- - - - - quote - - - - -
Lobbying Activities
Rule 45. No person, who for compensation or reward acts to promote, oppose, or influence a matter pending before the council shall be admitted at any time to the Iannella Council Chamber or anterooms thereof unless said person has registered with the clerk stating the nature of his or her business. The clerk shall distribute a complete listing of individuals registered under this rule on the first day of the municipal year and on the first day of July to each councilor.
- - - - - quoted - - - - -

the sak said...

Lobbying Activities under
Rule 45
Boston City Council
http://cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/councilrules.asp


2006 Lobbying Activities under Rule 45
1. Patricia Baumer - Director of
Government Affairs
Boston Real Estate Board
http://www.gbreb.com
2. Gregory Vasil, CEO -
Greater Boston Real Estate Board


2004 Lobbying Activities under Rule 45
1. Ted Jankowski, CEO -
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
2. John Lafferty, Executive Director,
Rental Housing Association
Boston Real Estate Board
http://www.gbreb.com/rha
3. Gregory Vasil, Legislative Counsel -
Boston Real Estate Board
4. William F. Coyne, JR. - A Professional Corporation
http://www.lawson-weitzen.com/attorneys1.html


2003 Lobbying Activities under Rule 45
1. Mark Reed - NSTAR
http://www.nstaronline.com/news
2. James McGaugh - NSTAR
3. Walter Salvi - NSTAR
4. Marc Lucas - NSTAR
5. Don Walsh - NSTAR
6. Edwin J. Shanahan, Chief Executive Officer,
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
7. Joy Conway, Senior Vice President for
Government and Industry Affairs
Boston Real Estate Board
8. John Lafferty, Executive Director,
Rental Housing Association
Boston Real Estate Board
9. Michael J. Moran
http://www.goulstonstorrs.com/lawyerSearch/fullBio.asp?id=306


http://cityofboston.gov/citycouncil/councilrules.asp
Lobbying Activities under Rule 45
Boston City Council