Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Taking a Toll
There are nine exceptions for going into "executive session". Eight of the exceptions do not fit the recent scenario with the Board of Health, but one may.
Click on the quote below to be brought to The Massachusetts Open Meeting Law in .pdf format.--ed.
"9. Exception Nine - "To meet or confer with a mediator, as defined in section twenty-three C of chapter two hundred and thirty-three, with respect to any litigation or decision on any public business within its jurisdiction involving another party, group or body, provided that: (a) any decision to participate in mediation shall be made in open meeting session and the parties, issues involved and purpose of the mediation shall be disclosed; and (b) no action shall be taken by any governmental body with respect to those issues which are the subject of the mediation without deliberation and approval for such action at an open meeting after such notice as may be required in this section. "
"This exception, passed in December, 1994, exempts mediation sessions from the Open Meeting Law's requirements provided that the decision to enter into mediation is made in open session and that the governmental body does not take any action concerning the issue or issues submitted to mediation until it has deliberated and approved such action in an open meeting."
If the above was followed as the law is written, then it was done properly. Only those residents that were there that night can tell if there was a quorum, a proper vote to go into executive session, and a vote on anything decided upon in the executive session in an open meeting directly after the private session.
However, if the residents of the town are disappointed, concerned, and against the decisions made in "executive session" there are avenues to take in order to stop it. A vote a Special town Meeting is one way to address the issue.
$50,000.00 is a paltry sum. There is too much at stake here, and an issue this big, that affects the health and well being of all of us here in Sturbridge must be taken before the citizens of the town for a vote, not decided in a private session.
Here's an idea that can be brought up at Town Meeting, if an access road is to be built to the Southbridge Landfill from Sturbridge, how about installing a Toll Gate? Allow access, but charge a fee per ton of refuse trucked along the route. The income from a venture like this could more than make up for settling for a mere $50,000.00.
Just a thought.
ed note: I've been told (see comments) that the access road to the landfill will not be coming out of Sturbridge as I believed. Bummer. However, the law is clear regarding Open Meetings, and if things were done correctly the town should have no worries about the mechanics of what was decided. Were they done correctly according to the law?
Due to the volatility of this subject, the comment section will remain open.