City Solicitor Provides Guide to New Open Meeting Law

Northampton City Solicitor Elaine Reall last week circulated a 13-page memo to public officials to explain the new Open Meeting Law that went into effect on July 1.

This memo has a bearing on a recent controversy where two city councilors were accused of violating the Open Meeting Law because they met together with the police chief to receive instruction on how to craft an ordinance. The two councilors represent a quorum of the Social Services and Veterans Affairs Committee. It appears that as long as the councilors did not “deliberate”, no violation occurred:

Reall: It was always clear that a “chance or social gathering” does not constitute a meeting, but what if a quorum attends a convention, press conference or training session? The quorum may now come together without posting notice “at a public or private gathering, including a conference or training program or a media, social or other event, so long as the members do not deliberate.”

Here is the full text of the memo:

See also:

Massachusetts Law about Open Meetings  

Northampton Redoubt: “Marijuana fines & the Open Meeting Law” (6/30/10) 

Northampton Media Video: “State Ethics Law 2010: A Presentation” (1/7/10 City Council meeting)

Best Practices Committee with Final Recommendations