ARE THE SELECTMEN PLANNING TO HOLD AN OPEN PUBLIC MEETING TO DETERMINE THE NEW TOWN ADMINISTRATOR HIRING CRITERIA OR WILL THEY BE PREDETERMINED IN SECRET?
Per the Attorney General’s Open Meeting Guidelines, “…The Open Meeting Law applies only to the discussion of any “matter within the body’s jurisdiction …As a general rule, any matter of public business on which a quorum of the public body may make a decision or recommendation is considered a matter within the jurisdiction of the public body…”
Further, in the court case, District Attorney for the Northern District v. Wayland School Committee, 455 Mass. 561 (2009). The Court determined that “…Governmental bodies may not circumvent the requirements of the open meeting law by conducting deliberations via private messages, whether electronically, in person, over the telephone, or in any other form…”
Certainly the criteria to be used in the selection of the Town Administrator position which impacts every aspect of Lynnfield Town Government and, thereby, every citizen, is a matter of public business and within the jurisdiction of the Selectmen. Holding individual Selectman private meetings with a third party [current Town Administrator and/or Search Firm] who may intentionally or unintentionally cross inform the opinion of one Selectman to another Selectman [a form of polling] is contrary to the Open Meeting Law but easily deniable by the parties involved. Why even raise the concern? Hold the meeting in public and the potential problems/suspicions go away. Also, at some point a quorum of Selectmen will have to vote on the criteria further invoking the requirements of the Open Meeting Law.
Equally, if not more important, the Selectmen deliberations would benefit from public input only available through the open meeting process.
Contact your Selectmen and tell them you want an open public meeting for this important issue – no secret meetings!