Monday, July 05, 2010

AG to Decide Whether Official's Blog Violates Open Meeting Law

I wrote in May about local-government officials in Western Massachusetts who asked the district attorney there to decide whether blogging by a public official can violate the open meeting law. Now, The Republican reports that the district attorney's office is referring the matter to Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office took over exclusive responsibility for enforcement of the open meeting law as of July 1.

Meanwhile, in Framingham, officials are concerned that a public listserv might violate the law, the Metrowest Daily News reports. The listserv, which focuses on local government issues, has some 1,500 members, several of whom are local officials.

As I said in my earlier post, I believe that a blog, as a general rule, would not violate the open meeting law. The danger would be in the comments. The safest solution is simply to turn off comments.

As for the listserv, the answer is that if a majority of members of a board use the listserv to "deliberate" about an issue within their authority, then they're probably running into trouble.

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