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Ashfield official files complaint against her board

ASHFIELD — Selectboard member Paullette Leukhardt has filed four Open Meeting Law complaints against her own selectboard, accusing it of: failing to take corrective actions recommended by the Attorney General’s Office for a previous complaint filed by an Ashfield House resident; having 15 sets of meeting minutes that were either missing, in draft form or were not approved; inadequately listing discussion topics on agendas; and “insufficient specificity,” because the documents discussed at the Feb. 26 board meeting were not included with the minutes.

Leukhardt, who is not seeking re-election to office, gave fellow selectboard members copies of her complaints, as the last item of business at the March 24 selectboard meeting.

At this writing, the board has not yet discussed Leukhardt’s complaints to the Attorney General’s Office.

Now the Selectboard and/or Town Attorney Donna MacNicol have up to 14 work days to respond to the complaints.

When asked about the missing or incomplete meeting minutes, Executive Administrator Mary Fitz-Gibbon said one of the sets listed has already been completed and posted online; all the rest are in progress, she said.

“Almost all are in draft, which we can and do give out, but they’re not finalized,” she said. Fitz-Gibbon said the board’s approved minutes are posted online, although records that include the documents discussed are kept in Town Hall.

The board’s approved meeting minutes are posted on the town’s website, on the selectboard page. Also, recorded meetings are posted by residents to the website Vimeo, and video recordings made by Brian Clark are frequently uploaded to YouTube.

Last year, the Attorney General’s Office deliberated on nine complaints that had been filed against the Board of Health or the Selectboard by a few residents, who have raised concerns with both boards about management of the Ashfield House, a public housing complex.

According to Fitz-Gibbon, roughly 14 Open Meeting Law complaints have been filed since last year’s annual town meeting.

At a special town meeting last summer, townspeople allowed a $12,000 increase for legal bills arising from a small number of residents filing many complaints. Suzanne Corbett, the former owner of the Ashfield House was asked why she had filed so many complaints. In response, Corbett sent an email to The Recorder, saying she had the right to file a complaint “when members of Ashfield town government blatantly refuse to comply with state law. ... My overall goal is merely to ensure that the citizens have an open and transparent government, as is required.”

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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