Cohasset Selectmen’s Mea Culpa to the Attorney General

As Cohasset Selectmen get deeper and deeper in trouble, Town Counsel Paul DeRensis’ letters to the Attorney General and others become more tortured.

DeRensis’  response to the Attorney General was written with regard to an Open Meeting Law complaint Selectman Martha Gjesteby filed against her board.

DeRensis’ 3-page letter on behalf of Selectmen noted Gjesteby’s charges and responded that the Board of Selectmen had taken actions to address the allegations and to ensure that future meetings would be posted in compliance with the Open Meeting Law.  The DeRensis letter also stated that Selectmen would address other matters related to the Acting Town Manager as appropriate when those matters arise.

“By copy of this letter to Ms. Gjesteby, we are notifying her that we have forwarded your office a copy of the complaint and remedial actions taken by the Board and are providing to her a description of these remedial actions.”

Gjesteby alleged that on Dec. 18th the agenda topic for an executive session did not comply with the requirement of the specificity under the Open Meeting Law.

Gjesteby said, the posted meeting notice must include a listing of topics that the chair reasonably anticipates will be discussed at the meeting. Gjesteby said “The posted agenda was required to identify the individuals whose contracts were being discussed.” Gjesteby said the vote to enter executive session similarly failed to identify the individuals whose contracts were being discussed.

1.    At the Dec. 18th meeting Gjesteby alleges there was an attempted discussion of the employment of Acting Town Manager Michael Milanoski.  “Because this discussion was not posted on the meting notice, it should not have occurred.”

2.    Gjesteby further alleges that…”During executive session the Acting Town Manager attempted to raise a dispute with me involving an E-mail that I sent to a third party, which he apparently obtained even thought he was not a named recipient in the e-mail exchange. The Board of Selectmen then engaged in a discussion of the alleged disclosure of this e-mail, including a discussion of potential future recourse. The discussion of the alleged disclosure was not a proper topic for executive session (Gjesteby quotes the statute here) and also was not part of the basis for entering executive session (another law quoted). And therefore should not have occurred in executive session.”

Gjesteby says she wants a recission of any action taken, an order concerning the scope of matters relating to the Acting Town Manager that must be deliberated in open session, acknowledgement that the Board of Selectmen violated the notice and executive session provisions of the Open Meeting Law in connection with the Dec. 18, 2012 meeting, and such other relief that may be just and equitable.

The Cohasset Board of Selectmen has, likewise, filed charges against Gjesteby for having shared a confidence with a third party.

At the recent MMA Conference the Attorney General stated that legal opinions as opposed to strategy advice by a public attorney is a public record–  so  it would appear that  Gjesteby’s disclosure of the DeRensis legal opinion to a confident is not a violation as it would be considered a public record.

We’ll soon find out.

© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed