It isn't about the "sides". It's about getting it right.

By Mike Flaherty | Apr 14, 2011


Interested Party authored a Blog post entitled, "Walter Cruz --The Quiet Man Speaks Up", regarding the way Selectman Cruz conducted the April 12th BOS meeting.


http://wareham-ma.villagesoup.com/blog/blog/95212?cid=4045


For some reason comments are not allowed under the Blog, so I thought I would discuss it here.


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Interested Party wrote:

And, Mr. Cruz knew his stuff.  When a photographer disrupted the meeting, Mr. Cruz accurately recited the requirement that photographers first need to obtain the Board's approval before snapping away.  At which point, the photographer grumbled something and left the meeting.
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You would think that with the experience that this town has with Open Meeting Violations, that all selectmen (new and old) would be experts in the OML by now.


I'm sorry, but Mr. Cruz, and Mr. Schneider, were in error when it comes to what Massachusetts Open Meeting Law speaks to the use audio/visual media during public meetings.


The photographer, whoever he or she may be, absolutely has the right to take pictures of a public meeting without the permission of the Chair as long as they are not disruptive in doing so.


The photographer does need to INFORM the Chair, but that is much different than requesting and receiving permission.


Quoting directly from the publication entitled, "Open Meeting Law Guide - July 2010"


Emphasis mine...

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What public participation in meetings must be allowed?


Under the Open Meeting Law, the public is permitted to attend meetings of public bodies but is excluded from an executive session that is called for a valid purpose listed in the law. Any member of the public also has a right to make an audio or video recording of an open session of a public meeting. A member of the public who wishes to record a meeting must first notify the chair and must comply with reasonable requirements regarding audio or video equipment established by the chair so as not to interfere with the meeting. The chair is required to inform other attendees of such recording at the beginning of the meeting.


Source: Office of the Attorney General (Martha Coakley).
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This document is found at the top of the "Wareham Boards & Commissions" page of the town's website.

 

Thank you for your time.


Mike Flaherty

Comments (28)
Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 14, 2011 23:19

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Interested Party wrote:


When it appeared that Selectman Steve Holmes tried to monopolize the meeting and ride roughshod over Mr. Cruz, Mr. Cruz would have none of it.  This meeting was Chairman Cruz' shining moment.
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I don't fault Mr. Holmes for being frustrated at being lectured on the Open Meeting Law, especially when he clearly had a better understanding of it than the other Selectmen present that night.


I also found it frustrating myself that Mr. Cruz allowed so many folks to speak from their chairs (civily or not) and not have them come to the microphone and state their names so that the folks at home could hear too.  Ironically, this testimony away from the mic is not on the record because it can not be heard over the WCTV broadcast.  But if someone was recording that meeting independently on their own in the room, then I bet they could reproduce a clear recording if needed.


I am happy that Mr. Cruz voted to appoint the Chief.  It was good to see him smile so much.  There was a lot to smile about that night.  But please, IP, just because he votes they way you and I might like doesn't mean that we should ignore it when he treats others unfairly - whoever they are.


Repectfully,
Mike Flaherty



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 15, 2011 03:56

Mike:  I have to admit I didn't know what I was doing -- first time writing something other than a comment on the website.  I meant to put it under something like an editorial  because I thought Mr. Cruz did a good job as Chairman and I would have liked people to post their own impressions of Mr. Cruz.  So, Mike thank you for moving it to this section.

 

With regard to Mr. Whitehouse, he was being disruptive to the people on that side of the room. I was trying to listen to the meeting, and his camera movement and clicking was distracting.  When a woman sitting behind him in the audience asked him not to take photos, he turned around and told her to "f.... yourself." This is the second time in two meetings that Mr. Whitehouse has told a woman to "f... yourself."  I witnessed both these incidents.

 

With regard to photography, the open meeting law requires that the photographer notify the Chairman before the meeting.  Mr. Whitehouse did not comply with that requirement.  As a matter of fact, Mr. Whitehouse must have come running from his nearby residence because when he entered and sat down he was out of breath.  Obviously, he had not been there at the beginning of the meeting to provide notice.  I was there at 6:30, and I certainly did not see him.

 

During BoS meetings, I, for one, will be more respectful to Mr. Cruz in his position as Chairman.  He deserves no less.



Posted by: mavis | Apr 15, 2011 08:40

IP did you read what Mike quoted from the AG’s office? How can you still say the chairman has to be notified if someone wants to take pictures? Could you provide the source that makes you think the chairman has to be notified.

 I believe ANYONE has a right to take pictures at a public meeting, I would include town meeting in that but I understand there is someone legalize that somehow can restrict any pictures. I wasn’t at the meeting and I am sorry to hear that Mr. Whitehouse used the F word when addressing someone at the meeting I don’t know who the woman was but maybe it was someone who may have had words with Mr. Whitehouse previously, still using the F word was inappropriate.



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 15, 2011 11:31

 

Interested Party, I didn't think there was anything sinister at all about not being able to post comments under your original post.  I think Wareham Week underwent some recent upgrades and they are probably not aware of it until now.  The same thing happened under a post that Larry McDonald posted on behalf of an anonymous author regarding the Police Chief (but I think the print edition has the same opinion piece under Liz's name).


Anyway...


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Interested Party wrote:

With regard to Mr. Whitehouse, he was being disruptive to the people on that side of the room. I was trying to listen to the meeting, and his camera movement and clicking was distracting.
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I wasn't there, but you say that the camera "clicking" was distracting?  Seriously?  C'mon.  I think you are better than that.  I hope so, because my wife is convinced that I am posting here under your username for an alias. :-)   


I wish.   If only I had half the time that you do to blog.  ;-)

 

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Interested Party wrote:


When a woman sitting behind him in the audience asked him not to take photos, he turned around and told her to "f.... yourself." This is the second time in two meetings that Mr. Whitehouse has told a woman to "f... yourself."  I witnessed both these incidents.
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That is unacceptable behavior by any measure, but try to find anyone on his website say that.  However, it has nothing to do with taking pics, unless of course, he was reacting to someone else who objected to his taking the pictures.  If so, then see above.  That doesn't excuse his behavior, though.

 

 

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Interested Party wrote:


With regard to photography, the open meeting law requires that the photographer notify the Chairman before the meeting.  Mr. Whitehouse did not comply with that requirement.
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True. 


But as Mr. Holmes pointed out, it is no secret that the meeting was already being videoed by WCTV.  I suppose to fully comply Bill could have politely raised his hand and made an announcement that he was going to take pics.  But at this point, I think we're really just splitting hairs.

 

Mavis, with regard to Town Meeting, it is "special" and does not technically fall under the Open Meeting law.  That said, I would find it chilling if the Moderator did not allow folks to make personal/independent recordings of Town Meeting.  That is not what happened though at the TM where Bill was told to stop taking pics.  He was roaming around and arguably being disruptive by invading folks' space as they went to the microphone.  If Bill asked the Moderator ahead of time if he could have a couple of designated vantage points in the room to take pics, I would be surprised and disappointed if he was denied.



Posted by: Shantih | Apr 15, 2011 12:00

I have to agree with Mike F. A few camera clicks are not distracting. Ever watch the president speak? Hundreds of flashes and cameras going off clicking away. Ever see a congressional panel where photogs. are sprawled out on the floor in front of the tables/dias constantly taking photos? And yet, business seems to get done.  People don't like Mr. W's blog so the minute he lifts his camera certain people attack him. Mr. Holmes was right. Everyone knows its a public meeting being televised. Let's try to act like adults and not bullies. I suggest you ignore Mr. W the next time he pulls out a camera at a public meeting.



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 16, 2011 02:58

Shantih, this is not the White House nor a Senate sub-committee meeting.  (When was the last time you heard a Senator or President complain about being photographed?)  Mr. Whitehouse patrols the room taking photos.  The telecast of the meeting is taken from two vantage points.  One camera on the BoS and the other on those presenting before the BoS.  Citizens in the audience, except those directly behind the presenters, are not photographed and don't expect to be photographed.

Mike, as a matter of semantics.  There is no absolute right allowing Whitehouse to take photos.  Even a person's First Amendment Right is subject to a balancing test between the State's interest (meeting free of disruption) and the person's 1A right.

Here is the Statute re: audio/visual of open meetings.

Chapter 30 (A), Section 20:

(e) After notifying the chair of the public body, any person may make a video or audio recording of an open session of a meeting of a public body, or may transmit the meeting through any medium, subject to reasonable requirements of the chair as to the number, placement and operation of equipment used so as not to interfere with the conduct of the meeting. At the beginning of the meeting the chair shall inform other attendees of any such recordings. (emphasis added).
Each element of the Statute must be segregated:

1.  Photographers/media person must notify the Chair;
2.  Statute applies to open meeting of a public body;
3.  Statute applies to any medium of transmission;
4.  Subject to reasonable requirements by the Chair. What are they?
a.  placement and operation of equipment, and,
b.  not to interfere with conduct of the meeting; and,
5.  Beginning of meeting Chair shall (must) advise attendees (give notice).
So, let's take all these points and see how they apply to Mr. Whitehouse.

1.  Failed:  Whitehouse did not notify Chairman Cruz before the meeting;
2.  Successful: BoS is a public meeting;
3.  Successful: Photography is a form of media;
4.  Failed the reasonable requirement test because Whitehouse did not inform Chairman Cruz that he would be taking photographs; therefore, Chairman Cruz was precluded from setting reasonable requirements.  Whitehouse did disrupt the meeting for those sitting near him; and,
5.  Failed the notice requirement because Chairman Cruz did not and could not advise attendees that Whitehouse would be taking photos because Whitehouse did not notify the Chair prior to the meeting.
Everyone at the meeting has rights.  Whitehouse has the right to take photos within limits.  The Chair and attendees have the right to a disruptive-free meeting.  And the attendees have the right to receive notice that Whitehouse would be taking photographs.
Now consider the prohibition of taking photos of the attendees. Once an attendee complains that Whitehouse is disrupting the meeting and Whitehouse is actually disrupting the meeting, then Whitehouse can be banned from taking photos, even if he is in a designated area.
With regard to Chairman Cruz' statement that Whitehouse cannot photograph an attendee without the attendee's permission, the Statute does not address that issue directly.  Under the statute, the issue does not turn on whether the photographer obtains the subject's approval to being photographed. It turns on the fact that the meeting is being disrupted when the subject disapproves and complains of being photographed.
Furthermore, there may be a right to privacy which a citizen could assert to prevent being photograhed.  Remember I stated that the video telecast provides only two views. Those are the views that attendees would expect (have notice of) to be available for public consumption.  And, if there is a right to privacy, the right belongs to the attendee, not to the BoS, and would, therefore, be asserted by the attendee (We again come to the issue of disrupting the meeting to inform the BoS that the attendee asserts his/her right to privacy).  BoS members do not have a right to privacy because they are public officials and have put themselves in the public eye.  They do not have a reasonable expectation to privacy.
I apologize for my long-winded explanation.  Mike, I don't think we are splitting hairs.  I do not want Whitehouse taking my photo and if I have to assert my right to privacy and thereby disrupt the meeting, I will do so without hesitation even after he had threateningly thrusted his face toward me and growled at me to "f... (my)self."  As I told you, I witnessed (aka experienced) this behavior which, under most criminal statutes, constitutes an assault.



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 16, 2011 09:55

Interested Party,

 

I read your response in full, but I think I covered 95% of your objections when I said...

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I wrote:


I suppose to fully comply Bill could have politely raised his hand and made an announcement that he was going to take pics.
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Lastly, I'll cut to the chase. 


I have attended countless public meetings at the state level and I have successfully challenged numerous political hack appointees at numerous state agencies who have attempted to ban audio/video/photography of public meetings - including photographs of the audience.


If Bill Whitehouse, or any other photographer, complies with letting the Chair know that he will be taking pictures and if the Chair does not give him reasonable vantage points, then the photographer will have recourse via an Open Meeting Law violation lawsuit - and he/she will prevail.


Note:  This does not give the photographer a right to disrupt the meeting - and he/she is not being disruptive if simply taking pictures from reasonable areas designated by the Chair.


An audience member's strong objections to being photographed do not constitute a disruption on the photographer's part.


It is a "public meeting".  Anything that goes on during it can be recorded one way or another - including the public attendance.  It is that simple.



Posted by: watersprite | Apr 16, 2011 11:48

While no one should accept abusive language in a public meeting (something that happens too often in our BOS meetings - a fair and watchful gavel is needed), I firmly believe that citizens who attend these same public meetings are voluntarily suspending some part of their privacy rights (a vague legal term, at best).  If you attend a public meeting, hearing, or gathering, you are by definition no longer private.  If someone wants to take your picture, nothing wrong with that.  Personally, I would expect this.

 

Further, the photographer can do pretty much whatever he wants with the photo, within the boundaries of the law.  The person being photographed may object to its use -- there are courts to handle that kind of dispute.

 

Then again, if the real issue is that someone doesn't want Bill Whitehouse taking their picture at a meeting because they don't like him or his website, my answer is too bad.  It's the same answer I'd give to someone who objects to Robert Slager noting on his site that someone attended a meeting and attributing unsubstantiated, unpleasant, or suggestive reasons for their participation.  I wouldn't like it, but too bad.



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 16, 2011 12:00

Mike and/or Watersprite.

 

Please cite the legal precedence for your conclusion that a photographer has the right to photograph an attendee who is doing nothing more than attending the meeting.

 

I again assert that Whitehouse did not comply with the notification requirements of the statute.  As a result, Chairman Cruz was unable to provide notification to the attendees.  Whitehouse was rightly banned from taking photographs.



Posted by: watersprite | Apr 16, 2011 12:49

I don't have to verify an assertion of a right - you need to show me where the assertion is incorrect.

Your assertion that Whiteouse didn't follow the pre-notification rules is accepted.  The fact that you showed nothing in your citation that gives the Chair the right to deny the right to take a photo so long as pre-notification is given supports my argument.



Posted by: watersprite | Apr 16, 2011 14:23

IP, also from your prior post - nothing in Mike's citation indicates the Chair (Cruz) has the authority to ban a photographer.  If Whitehouse fails to comply with the pre-notification rules one week but comes back the following week with pre-notification to the Chair and acceptance of the Chair's reasonable (not arbitrary) restrictions, he'd be free to take his photos.  From your reading of what Mike has posted, wouldn't you agree?



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 16, 2011 23:51

Watersprite:  I am surprised that you would think that I would disagree.  l provided the Statute and an interpretation of the law with regard to persons using media transmissions, including the use of photography, at a public (BoS) meeting.

 

There are, as you mention, certain requirements.   The photographer has to notify the Chairman of the BoS in advance of the meeting.  The Chair has to notify the public that the photographer will be taking photos.  The Chairman can require the photographer to comply with reasonable requests such as the location from which the photographer can take photos.  So long as the photographer does not disrupt the meeting, he/she can take photos.

 

Whitehouse did not comply with the notification requirement of the Statute; therefore, Chairman Cruz  properly prevented Whitehouse from taking photos at the last BoS meeting.

 

With regard to whether Whitehouse caused a disruption of the meeting, it appears that we disagree.  I contend that Whitehouse did cause a disturbance and, for that reason too, he was rightfully banned from taking photos during the last BoS meeting.

 

The second issue on which we disagree is whether Whitehouse can take photos of members of the audience who have no business to present before the BoS.  In other words, the person is merely sitting in the audience purposefully out of sight of the video cameras.   I contend that a person has a right to attend a public meeting with some expectation of the right to privacy, given the fact that the Statute provides that the Chairman must notify members of the audience that a photographer will be taking photos.

 

Most of us know that Whitehouse takes and uses photos of non-public persons who disagree with him as a means of harassment and intimidation.  That is precisely the reason he attempted to take my photo during the last BoS meeting.  I, like other private citizens have the right to attend a public meeting free of intimidation.  It is the intimidation that causes a disruption of the BoS meeting.

 

Actually, on a personal level, I may have a solution to my particular problem with Whitehouse which involves a restraining order to prevent him from further contact with me, especially in light of his outwardly, threatening behavior and language toward me.  This, however, does not resolve the problem Whitehouse has caused to other ordinary citizens.



Posted by: frogsrule | Apr 17, 2011 07:01

CranParty, just an FYI, having someone take your picture at a public meeting and using the "f" word is not grounds for a restraining order. Also, you ASSUME that photography is a medium referred to in the law, it is not. I have never seen any member of the press walk up to the BoS prior to a meeting and ask permission to take photos and that includes the quasy press from Halifax. You do not have an expectation of privacy if you attend a public meeting. What Walter did was violate Whitehouse's rights under the OML and possibly his civil rights. For as much as you hate Whitehouse, he has the same rights as you do. Get over it or stay home and watch it on tv.

I consider the Halifax non-reporter to be just as harrassing and intimidating to people with his fantasy "opinions" but he has a right to express them. Whitehouse also has a right to his opinions and that is exactly what his photgraphs are.

Please name one ordinary citizen who he has ever photographed.



Posted by: watersprite | Apr 17, 2011 09:30

IP, you say we disagree on whether Whitehouse caused a disruption -- I know I didn't mention anything about that in my comments.  If Whitehouse caused a disruption because he said something profane to a meeting participant, that's inappropriate, but not illegal.  The allegation is also probably not complete representation of events as there are usually two sides to exchanges.  You know about it from sports - the foul goes to the one reacting, not the initiator.

 

As to whether Whitehouse "caused a disruption" - if he was doing something legal and generally accepted then I'm not sympathetic to complaints about his "disruption".  As you no doubt know, the Constitution clearly protects the rights of minorities, so even if everyone in the room objected to Whitehouse taking pictures because they don't like him or fear he will post their pictures without their permission on his website, I would still defend his right to take pictures at the meeting.

 

What you and I seem to disagree about in this thread is that citizens who participate in a public meeting have rights to privacy from a camera lens.  I say they absolutely have no such right or expectation and if someone with the financial means to take a case to the U.S. Supreme court were to do so, the court would support the case.  Ask your lawyer friends.

 

And I believe the Chair must set truly reasonable rules controlling the activity.  In the BOS meeting room, this might include keeping a minimum distance from the object of  the photograph, not interfering with the line of sight between participants, not making noise above the sound of the camera itself, and generally respecting the rights of all participants to reasonably take in the proceedings.  If Whitehouse can live by such reasonable rules, he should be allowed to take as many pictures as he wishes.  As should anyone else.

 

And finally, and maybe most importantly from a rights perspective, Whitehouse does not have to ask permission.  If the rules stated by Mike are complete, Whitehouse just needs to notify the Chair to allow the Chair the opportunity to announce the activity in advance.  And the reasonable rules should be the same for everyone -- there shouldn't be Whitehouse rules, watersprite rules, IP rules, etc.



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 17, 2011 11:46

===========================================
WaterSprite wrote:


...Whitehouse just needs to notify the Chair to allow the Chair the opportunity to announce the activity in advance.  And the reasonable rules should be the same for everyone -- there shouldn't be Whitehouse rules, watersprite rules, IP rules, etc.
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Exactly.


And again, if the photographer (whoever) shows up after the meeting has started, then that person should notify the Chair at that time.


What a great day it is outside today.  I think' I'll enjoy it.  I suggest we all do.



Posted by: old lady | Apr 17, 2011 12:22

It is about a person who let an item voting the chief as permanent be allowed knowing it was not on the published agenda and an opposing selectman was absent. Mr. Cruz has let the town down. Why mr cruz Why?



Posted by: Mike Flaherty | Apr 17, 2011 13:21

old lady please do not hijack this discussion.



Posted by: old lady | Apr 17, 2011 13:44

Did Mr Cruz know his stuff? I doubt it.



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 17, 2011 15:49

Frogsrule:  Since you have worked in a law firm for two years, I will guess that the attorneys you work for do not practice criminal defense nor personal injury, otherwise, you would know that Whitehouse committed an assault when he "got in my face."  The assault occurred when he angrily came towards me, thrust his screwed-up face into mine, and spit out those ugly words.

 

Riddle me this Frogsrule, with regard to the Statute, what is the purpose of the notification of citizens at the beginning of the meeting, if not to provide some measure of privacy to those in attendance?

 

I prefer to view the meeting, up close and personal, because there are many nuances that are missed when viewing at home, as you suggest I do.  What an insult.  I have every right to attend any meeting I desire, and I do not think I should be deterred by the likes of someone like Whitehouse.

 

I am told by someone at the BoS meeting that Whitehouse attempted to take a photo of me until he was stopped by that person.

 

Frogsrule, for someone who professes legal knowledge, your arguments lack sophistication.

 

 



Posted by: watersprite | Apr 17, 2011 16:00

Mike,

Sorry for making so many comments on this blog, and perhaps overwhelming others, but thanks for the link to IP's earlier blog.  I think most of the attention in the comments has been about how the Chair handled Mr. Whitehouse.  This is, unfortunately, very much a secondary issue - a smokescreen - to the much, much more important question:  Did Mr. Cruz handle the matter correctly?  On this I disagree with you - I believe he did not.

 

1)  The matter of accepting the contract negotiated by Andrews and Stanley was not an agenda item and should not have been allowed.

2)  The full board was not present on this critical item - common sense should have led him to delay a vote until the full board could weigh in, after Mr. Andrews announced his signed contract with Chief Stanley.

3)  Mr. Cruz failed to gavel to order the room during applause - not until the 3rd outburst.  The smile on his face and unwillingness to ask for order during the first two occurrances would seem to indicate his approval of the applause and encourages more outbursts.

4)  Mr. Andrews once again failed to describe his plan for how the police and town budgets will handle Chief Stanley's compensation given the shortfalls in the police budget, and the Chair signaled his acceptance of this non-answer by allowing a vote before this critical, reasonable, and highly relevant information was provided.

5)  As this was the first time the amount of the contract was made public and the first time the board (and the Town) was given the chance to consider the matter, a more seasoned (and unbiased) Chair would have likely made sure the entire board was aware of the matter and had the information needed to make a reasoned decision.

 

I invite those with more knowledge in Board of Selectman procedure to advice everyone whether Cruz is bound by Roberts Rules in conducting this meeting.  I don't believe he is - he should be governed by more common sense rules.  With one member (Holmes) strenuously objecting because he contends that the budget will not balance based on budget numbers supplied by Mr. Andrews, and another member (Winslow - who likely would oppose the appointment on similar grounds) not present, the "right" way to have handled this would to have deferred a final decision until the information requested was provided, the item properly appeared on a posted agenda, and the full board was present.

 

Instead, Mr. Cruz allowed his personal desire to approve the Stanley contract interfere with doing the right thing.  The right thing is not just getting something done, but getting it done in the right way.  I believe Mr. Cruz failed in the latter.



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 17, 2011 16:35

Watersprite:  Sorry.  I should have read your post more closely since you did not mention disruption by Whitehouse.  I appreciate your comments and careful interpretation of the law.

 

It is probably quite obvious that I do not like nor respect Whitehouse nor his website.  However, I agree with you on many points, because photographers, even Whitehouse, can photograph public meetings.

 

And yes, per the Statute the Chair needs to set reasonable requirements.  Whitehouse needs to notify the Chair prior to the meeting.  And the Chair must notify the audience at the beginning of the meeting.  The Statute requires notification, not permission.  If I have used the word permission, I was in error, as the Statute clearly calls for notification.

 

I agree with you on equal protection.  I like your wording, no "IP rules, Watersprite rules", etc.  That is right on target.  I agree wholeheartedly.  I did not mean to imply that different rules apply to Whitehouse.  I stated the law as it that applies to all citizens.  Then I applied the law to the facts from the Whitehouse incident.  Whitehouse came rushing in, sat down, and started taking photos.  He failed to notify the Chair beforehand. He was not in compliance with the Statute.  The Chair rightfully banned him from taking photos during that meeting.

 

We still disagree on a citizen's right to privacy, which I do not think has been addressed by a court of law yet.

 

Thank you Mike for reprimanding Old Lady, she often tries to switch the subject of the debate.  I think this discussion is insightful and informative -- even if you and Watersprite disagree with me.  I respect your arguments.



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 17, 2011 17:40

Watersprite:  Correct me if I am wrong.  Mr. Andrews does the hiring.  The matter came before the board under the Town Administrator's recurring weekly report. I was pleasantly surprised that the contract issue came up because, as you know, I do support Chief Stanley.

 

When Mr. Holmes asked TA Andrews if he had hired Chief Stanley, Mr. Andrews answered in the affirmative.  I thought the vote of the Board was meant to show support for Chief Stanley, not to approve or disapprove the contract.  I guess my question is:  Does Stanley's contract require the Boards' approval?

 

Cara Winslow has missed a significant number of meetings.  I do not feel that the Board should hold up business based on her schedule.  Did she advise Chairman Cruz that she would be absent?  And if so, what was the reason?

 

Actually, my blog was meant to be in the discussion section (not a blog where I would be the only person posting  Just didn't know what I was doing).  And it was meant to encourage people to praise or constructively criticize Chairman Cruz' first "official" Tuesday night meeting.  That's why I appreciated Mike F. for starting this discussion.  Thanks again, Mike.



Posted by: watersprite | Apr 17, 2011 19:01

IP, I think this is as clear as mud.  Section 4-2(b) of the Charter says the BOS can veto an appointment made by the TA within 15 days of their being notified by him of an appointment.  If this applies to this situation, then when the majority of the board convenes again on April 25 they can decide to accept or veto the appointment.

 

However, Mr. Andrews contended at the end of the discussion of the hiring on April 14 that because this was a civil service transfer, seeming to imply that this was not an appointment at all, the matter was closed and Stanley was fully hired.  And he claimed he has a legal opinion to back  this up.

 

I know something about transfers, and to me this doesn't sound like a true transfer.  He may have moved a police chief position from one location to another, but he substantially changed the compensation of Stanley in doing so.  Stanley's base salary wasn't $130,000 in North Andover.  So while Andrews may have the authority to affect a transfer of the two positions, its not clear at all he can combine this with a HEFTY base pay raise without getting the approval of the BOS.  Just my opinion.

 

Several board members have missed meetings - I wouldn't single out Ms. Winslow.  But would she have rescheduled whatever it was that drew her away if she knew the Stanley question was an official agenda item?  We'll never know.  You can ask Mr.Cruz whether he knew or not.

 

The Chair (as I understand it) is responsible for determining, or at least managing, the agenda.  It is also the Chair's job to herd the cats, so to speak, and make sure that his/her board colleagues know what is upcoming and what they should be prepared to discuss.  From the meeting results, I'd say Mr. Cruz didn't do that very well for his first official meeting.  It did appear that two of his colleagues were prepared, and two were not.  He needs to learn from his mistakes and do better next time, especially if he wants get people to follow his lead of "being in this together".

 

I also welcome and encourage civil blogging and appreciate Mike for moving your blog to a discussion item.

 

 



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 17, 2011 19:24

Thanks Watersprite for the info re: veto.  Guess I need to read the charter and by-laws.  I think I would also need to look under Civil Service rules and regs.

 

We don't know whether the Board members were notified that they would be discussing Stanley, but I would be interested in finding out.  If they were so informed, then I would question Ms. Winslow's absence.



Posted by: frogsrule | Apr 20, 2011 15:28

What sort of makes me laugh is how easy it is to get answers to these questions. Just call Cara or Walter.

The BoS was NOT informed that the TA intended to bring the finalized contract, under the TA's report distributed to the Selectmen it said that the negotiations were ongoing and he would keep the board informed (don't quote that I am writing the gist of the answer I was given).

Walter was aware that Cara would not be present, this absence was scheduled some time ago although I was unable to get an answer as to why she wasn't there.

As a side note, no one on the board seems to have seen the actual contract that they voted on.

IP I suggest you direct your questions of the individual selectmen to them directly instead of hurling allegations on a blog. Up until this last year Jane missed almost one meeting a month due to a work commitment, Bruce missed many meetings due to his own health issues and his annual vacations in Mexico, John C missed many meetings when his work schedule changed, Steve has missed meetings due to his own health issues and his work schedule. I do not understand why Cara's job, health, or family are any less important then anyone else's? But I am sure you will have some sort of ridiculous reason.



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 21, 2011 01:39

Gee Frog, you seem like you have the answers.  But, you know what?  Jane is no longer on the Board.  Bruce is no longer on the Board.  John C is no longer on the Board.  And, I can't rely on your memory of events as to their absences.  Just because, as you assert past members missed meetings, that doesn't make it okay.  And if you would like to present proof of excessive absences by any of the past Board members, I might be more amenable to listening to you.

 

Aside from  your assertion that Walter knew Cara would be absent, I see no proof of same.  And unless you got this information directly from Mr. Cruz, I will question its veracity.  Actually, Frog without credible proof, I generally doubt most everything you post.

 

So Mike, I will follow your lead.  Without taking sides, it is unacceptable for any Board of Selectman to miss an excessive amount of meetings.  If the Board member cannot fulfill his/her duty, then the Selectman should resign.

 

Okay, Frog so here goes my direct question to Cara.  Selectman Winslow, why did you miss the BoS meeting on April 12, 2010?



Posted by: Shantih | Apr 21, 2011 07:35

Frog is correct on the absences and frequent absences of the other board members she mentions. Just go to the town website and look at the minutes. That will verify what he/she said.  Ignoring past performances of bos that you liked while criticizing a current member for the same is a bit hypocritical in my opinion.

 

I don't care what the person's personal reason he or she has to miss a meeting. Jane had work and vacations. Steve had health issues. I never once heard a complaint about them missing meetings. Why jump on just one person? People have real lives and cannot be expected to attend every meeting. Who cares where Ms. Winslow was? This issue is whether or not the agenda was set properly and if the charter was adhered to.

 

Frog said just call Cruz or even Winslow. The logical assumption would be that he or she did just that. Of course, then you'd get the truth and you would not be able to attack Winslow or Frog since you publicly claim that you doubt that person's posts. Seems like plenty of people "take sides" without going to the source to verify information.



Posted by: interestedparty | Apr 21, 2011 16:14

I thought I made it abundantly clear that anyone with excessive absences from BoS meetings, should consider resigning.  Nothing in that statement shows personal preference.



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