Autumn in the North Cemetery.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why Do Meeting Minutes Take Months To Share?

Of course, small town America runs a bit slower than big cities, it's just the nature of the village beast.

Now, there is small town slow, and then there is "why bother?" slow.

Today, I got a "why bother".

I subscribe to the selectmen  meeting minutes, among other notifications,  through the towns website.  I often get notifications of meetings, meeting time changes, agendas, and public announcements.  A very handy thing to have. I scan the emails as they arrive.  Some times I get mass emails with attachments.  Most of those attachments are meeting minutes.  A month of meeting minutes arriving by separate emails is not unusual, and the usually come late.  One to two months late, and that is frustrating, and aggravating to say the least.

This is how I figure it.  The meeting minutes are not only a record of what transpired during the meeting, who attended, who spoke, who said what, what business was settled, and what business was continued, but it is also a report card.  It shows us just how the meeting went, and how those we elected to office handled the issues, and handled themselves.  If one is satisfied on how they have performed, and handled the topics, and issues before them, one would think that a public record of that would be a great thing to have out there ASAP.

Nope.  Not here.  Not in Sturbridge.  It is almost like the longer they delay the release of the minutes, the more of us will forget what transpired at the meeting.

Naw.  That can't be it.  Too petty.

Today I received Selectman's meeting minutes in several emails.  The most recent meeting minutes were from November 18th.  Now, this was only eleven days ago, and although not the most timely meeting minutes, anything delivered in the same month is golden.

The next set were from November 7th, again, a good thing.  The other two sets are from October 17 (now we're pushing it a bit in the tardy column), and August 31st.

August 31st.  Beyond late.  Ancient history late.  Previous generation late.  No good to me late.

And, again, "why bother"?

I did receive another email with selectman meeting minutes attached.  That meeting was held five months ago on June 27th.


I know there is a good reason.  I know this because I will be told there is a good reason in the comment section of this post after I post it.  I've been told this before, and I was told it was for a good reason.

Let's see.

The mechanics of recording minutes are pretty standard, and putting them in some readable form for distribution is also standard.  Getting the minutes reviewed, and approved, should happen fairly quickly as well.


Unless there is a whole bunch of stuff one doesn't want in the minutes, and they have to be tailored for distribution.  It's called editing, and there's nothing wrong with that.  Making the moment sound better than it was is an art.  I've been there.  It happens, but it doesn't happen to take five months.

Next April, when we get this Decembers meeting minutes, I would be thrilled to read that something was being done with the system in order to hasten the distribution of the minutes.

Gives me another great reason to wish for Spring.

To read the Selectman's Meeting Minutes from June 27th, click here.

To subscribe to informational emails from the Town of Sturbridge, click here.


  1. Those minutes are missing a lot of information. I was shocked when I read the 6/27 minutes. Under the heading Town Counsel, that was a meeting that lasted at least a couple hours and covered a couple different topics but there's only one short paragraph, the motion, and then a couple more sentences?

    They talked with Mr. Bard for at least an hour about renewing the contract with his office and they spent that whole hour talking about how he's messed up and made mistakes during the prior year. There were several people in the audience who were there and just shook their heads every time Joel Bard opened his mouth.

    This is our government in action folks. And by the way, the contract with that attorney's office was renewed.

  2. We assume that the minutes of any meeting are accurate chronicles of what transpired. Nothing wrong with assuming that, after all, what is there to hide, or not divulge to the public? But, lies by omission are common, and are seldom caught at this level. The commenter above just happened to catch one, and we now deserve to know the reason behind the altered minutes. I don't think it will happen. Could they be dancing as fast as they can now that they've been busted? Let's not hold our collective breath on this one.


Anonymous comments not accepted, and will be rejected. Please use your full name. Choose "Name / URL" and enter your name, and your name ONLY. Leave "URL" blank.