Friday, October 31, 2008

Councilor Feeney puts out statement about Open Meeting Law

Statement from the Office of Council President Feeney



Boston—The office of Council President Maureen E. Feeney released the following statement today on behalf of the Boston City Council.



“In an attempt to bring resolution to the Open Meeting Law case, the Council has submitted a motion to the plaintiffs accepting the findings of the Appeals Court. The plaintiffs will have an opportunity to respond to the Council's motion and all will be filed with the Superior Court. Resolution is in the best interest of the Council, its constituents and the plaintiffs, but it is ultimately the Court that will rule on the motion and decide the outcome. The Council understands its obligations under the Open Meeting Law. It remains committed to transparency as a practice of good government and will continue to conduct its business accordingly.”


Let's break this down sentence by sentence:

1) The office of Council President Maureen E. Feeney released the following statement today on behalf of the Boston City Council. Did she confer with the other members of the Boston City Council before putting this out? It certainly wasn't a posted meeting, perhaps another violation of the Open Meeting Law, in some sort of serial fashion? However, I give her the benefit of the doubt that as Council President she may speak on behalf of the council.

2) “In an attempt to bring resolution to the Open Meeting Law case, the Council has submitted a motion to the plaintiffs accepting the findings of the Appeals Court. This isn't true, the City Council went to the Appeals court saying they didn't get a chance to present evidence despite being the moving party. The City Council didn't present any further evidence to us. In fact, the City Council in the 11th hour has brought up 4 additional meetings that neither the Appeals Court nor the Superior Court addressed in their decisions. This statement by Feeney is thus patently false.

3) The plaintiffs will have an opportunity to respond to the Council's motion and all will be filed with the Superior Court. Correct

4)Resolution is in the best interest of the Council, its constituents and the plaintiffs, but it is ultimately the Court that will rule on the motion and decide the outcome. The court WILL rule on the motion and decide its outcome. I don't like her speaking for me about what is best for the plaintiffs, and it is odd for the Council to be speaking of resolution after spending around $200,000 of taxpayer money on O.M.L. issues when they could have sat down with us three plaintiffs years ago to resolve these issues as we have offered many times. Or, they could have saved money by just paying the $11,000 fine which they will probably still have to pay.

5)The Council understands its obligations under the Open Meeting Law. If the Council understands its obligations why did they just send letters off to the DA the AG and others asking for clarification of the Law? Why did they pay Paul Walkowski tens of thousands of dollars to write up a report about the Open Meeting Law? And indeed, if they understand their obligations, why did they just admit guilt to 10 more violations of the Open Meeting Law?

6) It remains committed to transparency as a practice of good government and will continue to conduct its business accordingly.” If they are committed to transparency why is there a notice at City Hall saying the Rules Committee will meet in confidence, whenever and wherever they want without dates, times or places to discuss the Open Meeting Law? I have asked them to take it down or explain its purpose but no one has an answer. Why did they just send the Walkowski Report off for comment to the DA and AG which recommends that the council seek to exclude itself from the Open Meeting Law?

The fact is that the Council still does not seem to want to do all of their business in public. I have been super busy this week, or I would have filed yet another motion of more transgressions of the Open Meeting Law by the City Council as I told Justin Holmes from Councilor Feeney's office. The public this week was treated to the FBI indictment of Senator Wilkerson which shows how liquor licenses and land deals are done in Boston, in back room deals by "smoke and mirrors" as Dianne described it. That happens in Room 809 at Boston City Hall.

I have asked the City Council to make a firm commitment to Transparency by adopting a Sunshine Commission similar to the one that San Francisco has, but they refuse to even entertain the notion. It is actions like these which make the public wonder how much they are getting the shaft in these back room deals.

Postscript: The Boston Herald called me twice this afternoon trying to get a copy of the Council's Motion for Summary Judgment. I told the reporter I would have to confer with my co-plaintiffs first as a courtesy. The reporter called back and said that Maureen Feeney's office said my blog was incorrect, and accused me of not being transparent for not releasing the motion! I told her that she should ask the council for the motion, it is their motion, but she explained that she was refered to counsel for the council and just got an answering machine. I called Councilor Feeney's office to ask what was transcribed wrong on my blog, but they wouldn't answer the question and also referred me to their counsel and I also got an answering machine.
It was quite odd having the Herald be almost belligerent with me, at one point saying "I gave you an hour to confer with your co-plaintiffs, I have a deadline" as if I owed her anything????? Then accusing me of not being transparent? Not a great way to ask for information I'd say. I told her I'm running a business, and I'm just a citizen, I have people to pay on Friday at pay time, and they are my priority not some unknown reporter. I'm not the one getting paid to do the public's business, and my co-plaintiffs have work as well.
I have nothing but respect for the fourth estate, and the Herald, but if you want to get a story, get the whole story and do research don't badger people into sensationalist stuff.

PPS. If anyone can tell me how to post a PDF on this blog I would appreciate it!

7 comments:

the zak said...

What is the name of the Boston Herald writer?...

the zak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the zak said...

      > PPS. If anyone can tell me how to post a
      > PDF on this blog I would appreciate it!

Let me try!... by email don.saklad at gmail.com please send along the pdf

Michael Pahre said...

Isn't the motion for summary judgment itself a public document? If so, then just send it to the reporter as a courtesy without bothering your co-plaintiffs, so the poor reporter (one of an increasingly rare breed of Herald reporters) doesn't have to track down and pay for a copy via official channels. Just my humble opinion.

As for the content of Feeney's press release, note that it says that the Council "understands its obligations under the Open Meeting Law" and that it is "committed to transparency," but not that the Council is committed to acting in accordance to the OML. Absolutely amazing.

They want to define transparency themselves rather than follow the definition of transparency specified in the law.

the zak said...

http://decisionismblog.googlepages.com/
mccrea.pdf


http://decisionismblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/
open-meeting-plaintiffs-prevail-sort-of.html

Kevin said...

The summary judgment has not been filed with the court yet and hence is not available to the public. Councilor Feeney is correct that they have served it on the plaintiffs and we have 15 days to respond. After that it will be filed with the court and become available to the public.

the zak said...

Please post the docket number!...