The Public's Business

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Information about The Public's Business

Published on October 26, 2018

Author: dkennedy56

Source: slideshare.net

1. The public’s business A quick-and-dirty guide to Massachusetts’ Open Meeting and Public Records laws

2. To benefit the public • No special treatment for reporters • Students have the same rights as everyone else

3. Open Meeting Law • Most states have one

4. Open Meeting Law • Most states have one • Guarantees access to most government meetings

5. Open Meeting Law • Most states have one • Guarantees access to most government meetings • Doesn’t cover state Legislature

6. Scope • All meetings of governmental body, board, committee or subcommittee

7. Scope • All meetings of governmental body, board, committee or subcommittee • To discuss any public-policy matter within board’s jurisdiction, even if no decision is made

8. Scope • All meetings of governmental body, board, committee or subcommittee • To discuss any public-policy matter within board’s jurisdiction, even if no decision is made • A quorum of members must be present for law to apply

9. Notice • Filed in the city or town clerk’s office and posted at least 48 hours in advance

10. Notice • Filed in the city or town clerk’s office and posted at least 48 hours in advance • Notice period does not include Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays

11. Notice • Filed in the city or town clerk’s office and posted at least 48 hours in advance • Notice period does not include Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays • Emergency provision

12. Notice • Filed in the city or town clerk’s office and posted at least 48 hours in advance • Notice period does not include Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays • Emergency provision – Unexpected circumstances

13. Notice • Filed in the city or town clerk’s office and posted at least 48 hours in advance • Notice period does not include Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays • Emergency provision – Unexpected circumstances – Demanding immediate action

14. Notice • Filed in the city or town clerk’s office and posted at least 48 hours in advance • Notice period does not include Saturdays, Sundays or legal holidays • Emergency provision – Unexpected circumstances – Demanding immediate action – To preserve the public interest

15. Records • Minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions, must be made public

16. Records • Minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions, must be made public • Some records are “exempt from disclosure” under the state Public Records Law

17. Records • Minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions, must be made public • Some records are “exempt from disclosure” under the state Public Records Law – Privacy, including library records

18. Records • Minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions, must be made public • Some records are “exempt from disclosure” under the state Public Records Law – Privacy, including library records – Ongoing bids

19. Records • Minutes of all meetings, including executive sessions, must be made public • Some records are “exempt from disclosure” under the state Public Records Law – Privacy, including library records – Ongoing bids – Other common-sense exemptions

20. Executive session • Purpose must be announced

21. Executive session • Purpose must be announced • Roll-call vote in open session

22. Executive session • Purpose must be announced • Roll-call vote in open session • Majority of entire body, not merely of those present

23. Executive session • Purpose must be announced • Roll-call vote in open session • Majority of entire body, not merely of those present • Minutes must be released as soon as need for secrecy ends

24. Ten lawful purposes

25. 1. Personal reputation • To discuss personal reputation, character, physical condition or mental health

26. 1. Personal reputation • To discuss personal reputation, character, physical condition or mental health • Executive session not permitted to discuss professional competence

27. 1. Personal reputation • To discuss personal reputation, character, physical condition or mental health • Executive session not permitted to discuss professional competence • No private performance reviews

28. 2. Discipline • To consider discipline, dismissal or to hear complaints against an individual

29. 2. Discipline • To consider discipline, dismissal or to hear complaints against an individual • Individual must be notified in advance

30. 3. Litigation and negotiation • To discuss city or town’s strategy in collective bargaining or litigation

31. 3. Litigation and negotiation • To discuss city or town’s strategy in collective bargaining or litigation • To conduct contract negotiations with nonunion personnel

32. 3. Litigation and negotiation • To discuss city or town’s strategy in collective bargaining or litigation • To conduct contract negotiations with nonunion personnel • To conduct collective bargaining or to hear grievances as required by bargaining agreement

33. 3. Litigation and negotiation • To discuss city or town’s strategy in collective bargaining or litigation • To conduct contract negotiations with nonunion personnel • To conduct collective bargaining or to hear grievances as required by bargaining agreement • Litigation may not be settled in private

34. 4. Security • To discuss the deployment of security personnel

35. 5. Criminal misconduct • To investigate criminal misconduct

36. 6. Real estate • To consider or negotiate real-estate transactions if open session may have detrimental effect

37. 7. To comply with law • To comply with another law that requires an executive session, such as privacy

38. 8. Preliminary screening • To screen applicants for a position at a preliminary level

39. 8. Preliminary screening • To screen applicants for a position at a preliminary level • Finalists must be interviewed in public session

40. 8. Preliminary screening • To screen applicants for a position at a preliminary level • Finalists must be interviewed in public session • How can we tell the difference?

41. 9. Mediation • To meet or confer with a certified mediator, provided that:

42. 9. Mediation • To meet or confer with a certified mediator, provided that: – Decision to participate in mediation is decided in open session

43. 9. Mediation • To meet or confer with a certified mediator, provided that: – Decision to participate in mediation is decided in open session – Parties involved and purpose of mediation disclosed before mediation

44. 9. Mediation • To meet or confer with a certified mediator, provided that: – Decision to participate in mediation is decided in open session – Parties involved and purpose of mediation disclosed before mediation – Any issues subject to mediation be deliberated in open session afterward

45. 10. Trade secrets • A new provision • “To discuss trade secrets or confidential, competitively-sensitive or other proprietary information” under certain circumstances

46. Public Records Law • “[A]ll books, papers, maps, photographs, recorded tapes, financial statements, statistical tabulations or other documentary materials or data regardless of physical form or characteristics” that are made or received by state, county and municipal offices. A reasonable fee may be charged. — Longmeadow Town Counsel David Martel

47. Police records • Records most often sought by reporters

48. Police records • Records most often sought by reporters • Log of incidents must be made public

49. Police records • Records most often sought by reporters • Log of incidents must be made public • Log must include names and addresses of those arrested and charges against them

50. Police records • Records most often sought by reporters • Log of incidents must be made public • Log must include names and addresses of those arrested and charges against them • Incident reports are not public if disclosure would harm investigation

51. Real-life dilemmas • Before the meeting, a rolling quorum gathers out back. What should you do?

52. Real-life dilemmas • The City Council is about to go into executive session. You believe its reasons are illegal. – What should you do at the meeting? – What should you do the next day?

53. Real-life dilemmas • School Committee members want to screen 25 applicants for curriculum director in executive session. Can they?

54. Real-life dilemmas • School Committee members want to screen 25 applicants for curriculum director in executive session. Can they? • School Committee members want to interview five candidates for curriculum director in executive session. Can they?

55. Real-life dilemmas • A School Committee member tips you off that his colleagues are discussing business via email. What should you do?

56. Enforcement • Open Meeting Law – Attorney general’s office

57. Enforcement • Open Meeting Law – Attorney general’s office – Punishment provisions are weak

58. Enforcement • Open Meeting Law – Attorney general’s office – Punishment provisions are weak • Public Records Law – Custodian of public records (local)

59. Enforcement • Open Meeting Law – Attorney general’s office – Punishment provisions are weak • Public Records Law – Custodian of public records (local) – Supervisor of public records in the secretary of state’s office

60. Resources • Digital Media Law Project: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/open- meetings-laws-massachusetts

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