Thursday, September 11, 2008

How to get City Council report on excluding themselves from open meeting law!

I saw on Universal Hub that Councilor Feeney had a press release about the Council always wanting transparency. So I called her office to get a copy of the Wolkowski report. I asked to have it electronically (you know, save trees, save postage, be able to post it so more people could see it and well, make it more transparent!!!) and they said they were only sending out hardcopies. I asked them to send me one.

I then again asked why they weren't making it available electronically and they said there was a concern that if they made it available electronically that it might be altered!!!!! Apparently, they have never heard of PDF's. I then suggested that they post it on the City website for all to see. They said they would take it under consideration. I asked to have Councilor Feeney give me a call to talk about how they could be more transparent about this.

Another good question is how long they have been working on this, and how much it costs. They supposedly commissioned this about 14 months ago. Mr. Wolkowski was paid $70K or so in 2007 according to the Herald website, who knows how much in 2008. I have put a FOIA request into the council to find out this information.

The total now must be around $150,000 that the council has spent fighting transparency and the Open Meeting Suits all without taking maybe an hour of their time and sitting down with Shirley Kressel, Kathleen Divine, and myself to discuss how they might avoid all these problems with Open Meeting Suits. Next time Councilor Flaherty is complaining about how much is being wasted on studies of a new City Hall, a good reporter should ask how much they have been wasting on this stuff.

We have offered to sit down with the council to try and work things out, but for three years they have refused. A real absence of leadership, when there is free taxpayer money to spend. Even George Bush came around to negotiating with North Korea.

Finally, if you want to see an example of what I consider to be a violation of the Open Meeting Law (could another lawsuit be far behind?) go to the posting board on the first floor of City Hall, in the upper left hand corner and read the posting for the rules committee.

The posting essentially says, and I'm paraphrasing: "This is the notice of the rules committee. We shall meet from time to time when we want to discuss the Open Meeting Law. We aren't going to tell you when or where. Consider yourself noticed."

If they are all about transparency, why not post the report on line to get citizen comments? I thought we were going green?

By the way, they have never been sued for talking in the hallways. That is just their smokescreen to try and exempt themselves from the law so they really have more backroom dealings.

2 comments:

Robert Ambrogi said...

I posted a PDF of the portion of the report that addresses open meetings at my Media Law blog.

the zak said...

Extracts from the Report presented to the Rules Committee of the Boston City Council
by paul.walkowski at cityofboston.gov
http://SunshineBoston.blogspot.com