Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
An interactive MMA webinar yesterday offered an extended opportunity to discuss the state’s public records and open meeting laws.
Attorneys Lauren Goldberg and Janelle Austin of KP Law led the hour-long open forum, answering inquiries about the latest developments related to each law and practical considerations for municipalities, while Northbridge Town Manager Adam Gaudette moderated.
The session opened with a brief review of key takeaways from an MMA webinar in April that discussed the fundamentals of each law. Goldberg and Austin reiterated the intent of the laws — to increase government transparency and ensure that the work of public bodies is conducted in open session, and that accurate and timely minutes are kept.
Goldberg and Austin discussed best practices for using community email accounts to improve accountability, particularly when messages are sent using “reply all” or committee members are blind CC’d. They said sharing feelings, ideas and concerns with committee members via email or text — regardless of whether anyone responds — is considered a violation of the open meeting law.
Gaudette fielded dozens of questions from attendees. Goldberg and Austin addressed inquiries about personal note exemptions, best practices for posting meeting minutes and notices, resumes as public records, and participating in deliberative discussions on social media.
Goldberg and Austin recommended attendees review the Attorney General’s Open Meeting Law Guide and website, as well as the Secretary of State’s Guide to the Public Records Law.