Elizabeth A. Lane, attorney at Kopelman and Paige, the town counsel for Winthrop, gave an 80-minute seminar on the state’s opening meeting law during a Town Council meeting Tuesday night at the Robert A. DeLeo Senior Center.
Town Council President Peter Gill said all town department heads and committee chairpersons were invited to the meeting. Police Chief Terence Delehanty and Fire Chief Paul Flanagan joined other officials at the seminar that was broadcast live on WCAT.
Lane, who has 30 years of experience in municipal law, talked about the elements of the “new” open meeting law, which she said, actually went into effect in January, 2010.
“Even after four years there are still aspects of the new opening meeting law that are foreign, we have not yet adjusted to, and cause confusion,” said Lane.
Lane said committee chairs have duties and powers that never existed before, mainly with “putting together the agenda, controlling the meeting, and declarations at the time of executive session.”
The posting of notices for meetings has become more demanding, according to Lane.
“The new statute on opening meeting law wants [meeting notices] available on 24 hours notice, so you might have seen across the Commonwealth that some communities have put notice boards on the exterior and so that any hour of the night people can go view them.”
Lane spoke about the sending of emails to committee members, saying that nothing resembling a deliberation of the issues should be conducted via email among members.
“Email communication has now become a big thing,” said Lane. “Emails are not allowed to be a part of your deliberations on a matter in your jurisdiction because your deliberations have to take place in open session.”
Lane also said that agenda items have also have to include more details than under the previous open meeting law.
Lane concluded her presentation by opening up the floor to questions. She said she would be posting her entire presentation on the town’s website.
Book signing at Winthrop Book Depot
Winthrop author Kate Anslinger will be signing copies of her book, “Saving Jason,” Saturday at the Book Depot in Winthrop Center.
Please call the Winthrop Book Depot for the hours of her appearance at the store.