Dalton Select Board member accuses board of violating state's Open Meeting Law
DALTON -- Select Board member Stuart Sargent is claiming that the Dalton Select Board violated the state's Open Meeting Law with Monday's session, and that the agenda used during the meeting was not the final draft.
Notices of a public meeting must be posted 48 hours before the meeting's scheduled time, and weekend hours are not factored in. Dalton officials have historically posted their agendas on Thursday, but since Dalton Town Hall is closed on Friday, Sargent is arguing that the final agenda should be posted on Wednesday instead.
"It's a small technicality, but I'm trying to make a point," Sargent said. "There's no one even in the office Friday to ask questions."
On Tuesday morning, Stuart officially filed the legal paperwork for his complaint with both the Dalton Town Clerk and the Dalton Select Board. He said he also contacted Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Every Wednesday, the Select Board Chairman, John Boyle, and Town Manager Kenneth Walto put together a draft agenda comprised of issues brought before the town. That agenda is then refined before it is distributed to Select Board members and, ultimately, posted by 7 p.m. Thursday.
The agenda for Monday's Select Board Meeting states that it is a "draft agenda," not a final draft.
"That's not how it's supposed to be," Sargent said.
He said that he submitted a few agenda items on Wednesday, but Boyle "blew them off."
"He should have at least put one or two of them on the agenda," Sargent said.
Boyle, who has been on the Board of Selectmen for five years, said that the meeting's agenda has always been submitted and posted on Thursday, and that it doesn't matter if the town hall is open or not.
"I've never seen a Board of Selectmen with as much integrity as the current one, including Mr. Sargent," Boyle said. "It's an issue I find incomprehensible."
On Monday, the Select Board voted to approve a municipal brush control program through Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo), a Technical Assistance Grant for the Department of Housing and Community Development, and to install new bleachers at Pinegrove Park.
Sargent abstained from every vote. "I'm not going to vote in something that I think is illegal," Sargent told The Eagle after the meeting.
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