Wednesday, January 16, 2008

E-mails did not Violate Open Meeting Law

A Massachusetts district attorney has ruled that a Northampton city councilor did not violate the state's open meetings law when he sent e-mails discussing city business to a majority of city councilors. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that Northwestern Assistant DA Cynthia M. Pepyne concluded that the e-mails were lawful because they did not result in deliberation among the council members.

The newly elected councilor had not been sworn in when he sent the e-mails. If I understand the story correctly, he sent the e-mails to nine city residents and the council president. In them, he discussed other communications he'd had with other councilors asking where they stood on an issue that was to be voted on at the next council meeting.

"While Reckman's email correspondence was within the bounds of the law," reporter Dan Crowley writes, "Pepyne noted in her ruling that email communications amongst a quorum of members of the City Council, even if conducted in serial fashion, will constitute a violation of the Open Meeting Law and subject the council to enforcement proceedings."

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