Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Right to Know Presentation Well Attended

Thank you to Selectman Josh Bartlett for arranging this informative session with the NH Municipal Association.
Stephan Buckely,an attorney with the NH Municipal Association, did a very comprehensive presentation on the Right to Know law (RTK)  last evening at Town Hall to about 25 or so of our local officials and department heads. Most boards were represented at the presentation.
The session was taped, but is not available for broadcast per the NHMA . It is to be used for training purposes only.
A topic I found of great interest was the the use of email. Never use email to conduct a meeting. Never hit reply all in responding to emails from a majority of the board. It is okay to pass along information for later discussion at a legally posted meeting, but it is never okay to discuss it in an email as it may constitute a meeting subject to the RTK law. I explained the recent issue I had with rescheduling a selectmen meeting a few weeks ago by email which I objected to and felt was improper as it involved discussion by a member hitting reply all and a decision made on an issue over which the board has jurisdiction and control. Attorney Buckley said that was a no-no and could lead to litigation. A question was asked about polling members of a public body outside of a public meeting to ascertain choosing it's leadership and that was also a no-no per Attorney Buckley.
Chance encounters with a quorum of members of a board was discussed  and the advise was to never discuss things over which the public body has jurisdiction and control at such chance encounters to avoid any concerns.
All in all a very worthwhile session and one of the benefits of membership in the NHMA. I have to mention that membership in NHMA requires a fee that is not based on property value. It is a flat fee that all towns pay. Imagine that.

15 comments:

No Fan of the BoS Chair & Vice Chair said...

Does the answer on "polling" for a chair's position and the manner nominations were cut off at the 2015 BoS Organizational Meeting now require a redo of the selection of Chair and Vice Chair.

It seems that it should

Anonymous said...

If they hold another vote, do you really expect the results to change? That is what is laughable about the whole deal. They could have just taken all nominations, or even if they only took one at a time (as in the Rules of Order) if a person you don't want as chair is nominated first, vote no and if the majority votes no, then it moves to the next nomination. The results could have come out the same without all of this hoopla. Unfortunately for the Town, it doesn't seem like any of the 5 members were smart enough to see this. THAT is a scary prospect!

Blog Fan said...

Blogger, since your election to the Select Board, some in town feel the Moultonboro Speaks blog should be shut down, Any discussion about the blog at the RTK meeting?

Watch the Video said...

Anonymous @7:13, watch the video before you jump to conclusions!

Moultonboro Blogger said...

There was a brief discussion pertaining to the blog in terms of whether it is a RTK violation for selectmen to discuss town business on the blog and the attorney's response was only if it involves a quorum, the same as if we emailed each other sequentially.

OPEN. .? ? said...

There are two BOS members who veamently feel the Molt Speaks Blog, and the camera cause all their problems. So much for transparency. Residents need to keep a lid on these two, so we may keep an eye on their agenda for us. Amazing that we have elected these two, who want to shut the public out of the loop.

Anonymous said...

To, Open, May 6; 7:55 am.

Note we also have alias on to the Town BoS, the Road Agent who was quoted some years ago saying, "I never read the Blog".

It would seem all our elected officials should not shut out opinion, even if they disagree with it, especially if you are an administrator.

QT Around Town said...

The end does not justify the means. Looking back at the 1st BoS meeting after the election it is embarrassing to watch three show ignorance of the RSA's;the arrogance of the vice chair, and the foolishness of what was planned prior to their public meeting of who would be nominated for chair and vice chair. Clearly a violation of the Right to Know Laws, but that's only if one believes in them!
We can only hope that at least the chair is no longer so naive and will actually take on the responsibility to Learn the RSA's and frankly be much more prepared than we have seen for his entire term. His snide dismissal time after time is no longer an excuse for blatant ignorance. We used to see a former BoS member flailing her arms while making a motion to go into non public for 'personnel reasons. Sigh. We don't need that nonsense any more. They can't blame the blog for their own ignorance.

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

Although traveling, the wonders of broadband,can keep us on the blog; especially after dinner and complimentary beverages.

Is there any wonder that the 200-300 that create town law (ordinances)and stifle dissent(yes both sides) would rather keep the status quo?

Is it any wonder that those same few, do not want challenges to "their" power. The same few that don't want SB-2 or Official Budget Committees?

There is opposition to the town buying video equipment to stream live municipal meetings. Damn, if that happens, the back-alley meetings won't stand up, and the town gentry would find it more difficult to connive. Do not forget entitlement. You know ... the select few!

Get rid of the blog ... The only mechanism where MoBo taxpayers, or anyone, can comment on town issues!

A town petition should be created to mandate a town blog, funded by the Tech Fund. It is the only communications mechanism the town has (with warts) to discuss/debate town issues.

Then again, if someone is elected to a MoBo "office" there is some kind of celestial anointment of omniscience, that occurs, and their thoughts are supposed to be considered dogma.

Maybe it is a good thing that not all elected are inflicted with the "I know better" disease.



For SB-2 ASAP said...

For too long with a wink of the eye and a back room unlawful meeting this Town's BoS members have snubbed their noses at the voters. With the complicity of the last two Town Moderators, who have effectively shut down any semblance of dissent, by limiting discussion and obfuscating their misconduct, our Town Fathers have imposed their model of "good government" with proxies that did their dirty work as the last TA effectively accomplished.

The problem is that an apathetic electorate that just does not attend the Town Meeting abdicates its power to the small cadre of "leaders" who are so egotistical that they believe they are better, smarter leaders who don't need to listen to anyone other than themselves.

This audacity and hypocrisy will not end until the voters recognize that their power with SB-2 can finally limit the MoBo od boy political machine.

Grumpy said...

So here is my problem. We have watched the "usual suspects" time after time violate the RTK laws and then there is an event of education and no one pays the price. The MCA had a very good presentation a number of years ago after repeated violations. The most egregious folks never showed up. They will continue to do as they please until there is a REAL penalty; it has to hurt. I think the 2016 town warrant needs to have an article that calls for the release of any elected or appointed official of their duty should they violate the RTK laws after one reprimand.

Anonymous said...

Prior to the blogger becoming a Board member I had no problem knowing that he was translating all that he sees and commenting on it with what is essentially his perception as writing about one’s own experiences, observations, and opinions is part of the definition of a blog. However, holding a position of authority gives credence to those thoughts and opinions and makes some citizens blindly assume they are facts and I now believe it unnecessarily adds to the divisive nature in our town and leads to misunderstandings as to what actually transpires at meetings. For example, the RTK lawyer did not say “It’s a No-No. It could lead to litigation” when discussing email correspondence amongst Board members anymore than he said the blog in itself could lead to litigation. Our blogger wanted to be right on the email issue so essentially gave his synopsis of what he heard (when I heard the lawyer simply speak of a better way and used an analogy of “spokes on a wheel” as the best way to disseminate information between meetings) and unfortunately, folks reading this blog take the blogger’s opinion as fact. Further, the discussion wasn’t “brief” about the blog, and its potential “red flag,” in relation to the time spent on any other topic but the blogger brushes off the response because it suits his needs and opinion. I am not looking for a straight dictation of any meetings but wish he would remind people that oftentimes it is his humble opinion being given, just as I am doing with this comment.

Moultonboro Blogger said...

Anon at 6:56am- I stand by what I heard at the RTK session and what I wrote was a accurate representation of the presentation. I explained the email issue exactly as it occurred and it was confirmed to be a " no no" to never hit reply all, never meet via email and it could lead to litgation and Superior Court resolution. The discussion on the blog was in fact very brief.
As to the negativity you mention, perhaps those of you who whine about all the perceived negativity in town should take a look inward to find the source.
Lastly, the public knows who writes this blog and this comment, but not who you are. Why is that?

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

"Prior to the blogger becoming a Board member I had no problem ..."
@ May 12, 2015 at 6:56 AM is a good post.

It brings up issues that we should all be aware.

The criticism of the blogger, and the fact that the blogger has posted it on the blog is testimony to the usefulness of the blog ... and disposition of the blogger.

Nobody/everybody ...does/doesn't ... have to agree.

We all look at the world through a different set of lenses.

Those that have tendencies to be lemmings, will continue to be lemmings and follow off the cliff, no matter the source.

My own opinion, on RSA 91-A is it is a state law for transparency in government, with remedy in the courts. However, caused by what crime? What are the remedies.

Lawyers are paid to champion a cause, right/wrong/indifferent.

Maybe those that train in that realm should stress the RSA 91-A definition of ... meeting ... deliberation ... quorum ... discussion ... decision ...etc.
Are emails more dangerous than a conference call or a Skype call. Try proving it.

Then send all of the committee/board members to jail ... just as a ... this is what will happen to you if you what if you screw-up!

Nancy Wright said...

Anonymous, 6:56 AM, said, "However, holding a position of authority gives credence to those thoughts and opinions and makes some citizens blindly assume they are facts and I now believe it unnecessarily adds to the divisive nature in our town and leads to misunderstandings as to what actually transpires at meetings."

Unfortunately, the public meeting in question, was not allowed to be video taped by the public. The RTK seminar was also off limits to the general public even though it was paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Most of the town's public meetings are video taped and posted on the town website or the Moultonboro Speaks blog. The videos are a record of what was said and who said it. Watch the videos and you can see and hear for yourself what "actually transpires at meetings."

Views and opinions on Moultonboro Speaks don't always mirror those of the blogger but he posts them anyway, even the anonymous ones.

Paul has provided a forum for residents to openly discuss and debate the issues that effect our town. So discuss and debate, it's more productive than posting a comment that criticizes the blogger.