AG: Rowe violated Open Meeting Law

Recorder Staff
Saturday, December 09, 2017

ROWE — The state Attorney General’s Office has found that the Rowe Selectboard violated the state’s Open Meeting Law (OML) on May 11 by failing to adequately post where the Selectboard meeting would be held and by reconvening for a new topic after the posted meeting had been adjourned. However, the AG’s office determined that some complaints reported by Cynthia Laffond and Margaret Rice of Rowe were not violations.

The Selectboard has been ordered to comply with the law, and warned that similar violations in the future “could be considered evidence of intent to violate the law.” The Selectboard also has 30 days to revise its May 11 meeting minutes.

Rice and Laffond reported that a posted meeting for May 11 at 10 a.m. listed only fuel oil bids on the agenda, but that bridge repairs and broadband issues were brought up at the meeting, deliberated and acted on. They said two of the three Selectboard members, former Chairwoman Marilyn Wilson and former Selectman Walter Quist, were already talking to the highway superintendent before the meeting began. And, after the meeting was adjourned, the Selectboard reconvened the meeting to discuss employee health insurance, after Selectman Dennis May asked a question about it.

The AG ruling did not find evidence that issues were deliberated before the posted meeting began. And it agreed with Wilson that the bridge repair and broadband issues were legitimately “items not anticipated” that needed immediate action.

But the ruling took issue with the meeting being held in a smaller office in Town Hall and with the health insurance deliberations after the first adjournment. Although the posting gave the meeting’s location as “Town Hall,” the AG said not identifying the precise location violated rules because “the public should not have to guess where in the building the meeting is being held.” The meeting was held in the executive secretary’s office that day because another meeting was in progress in the usual selectmen’s meeting room.

Also the state argued it was wrong of the board to reconvene the meeting to discuss the health insurance issue, and is ordering the board to amend its minutes, which omitted that the meeting had been adjourned and reconvened.

The report can be found at: