CITY OF SALEM, MASSACHUSETTS
City Council Sub-Committee on Licenses, Ordinances and Legal Affairs
Sunshine Ordinance Sub-Committee
RE: Ordinance relative to Public Notice of Availability of Information (Sunshine Ordinance)
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
City Hall, 2nd Floor, Ante Room
Present: Councillor Joan Lovely, Councillor Jean Pelletier, Eileen Sacco, Jim Kearney, Beverlie McSwiggin, Teasie Riley-Goggin, Lisa Joubert, Elizabeth Rennard, Jane Guy, Thomas Watkins
Councillor Joan Lovely opened the meeting. City Solicitor Beth Rennard passed around two handouts to the group. One handout was relative to the new rules and regulations of the Open Meeting Law which will go into effect on July 1, 2010 should pending legislation not pass which would delay the implementation date to the Fall of 2010. The other handout was the Sunshine Ordinance with the recommended changes to the ordinance highlighted in green.
Ms. McSwiggin stated that the Trust Fund Agendas do not have much detail and that every agenda for the Trust Fund looks similar. Ms. Guy stated that she believed that some boards and commissions use a boilerplate agenda with general categories. All agreed that there should be more detail in the agendas. Ms. Rennard will look into this and also stated she will be scheduling training meetings with the Clerks of all City boards to discuss the requirements of the new Open Meeting Law and the updated Sunshine Ordinance, once they take place.
Ms. Rennard stated that a new division within the State Attorney General’s Office is being created to oversee and enforce the Open Meeting Law. A guidebook on the Open Meeting Law for municipalities will be created and disbursed by this same division.
Ms. Rennard then reviewed her handout on the significant changes to the new rules of the Open Meeting Law. This handout is attached to these minutes and made part of the record.
Ms. Rennard reviewed the recommendations to the existing Sunshine Ordinance. Her recommendations are attached to these minutes and made part of the record.
Mr. Kearney raised concern over the amount of “clicks” a web user needs to do in order to access agendas through the Meeting Calendar. Ms. Guy and Mr. Watkins will review how each agenda and meeting folder is set up on each board/commission web page to make sure they are all uniform and will also work to eliminate as many “clicks” as they can in order to make navigation easier for all web users.
A recommendation was made to ask board clerks to put reminders on their electronic calendars for the preparation and disbursement of meeting minutes and agendas. Ms. Rennard will include this in her training.
Section 2-2027 (b) was recommended to be entirely struck from the existing Sunshine Ordinance because it conflicts with some State regulations. Ms. Guy explained in detail how the Historical Commission can not comply with this requirement and noted that the intent is covered in Section 2-2027 (a).
Ms. Guy will come to the next meeting of the Sunshine Ordinance Sub-Committee with a recommendation as to what City boards/commissions should be added to the email subscriber list. Since it will cost the City more money to extend the subscriber list beyond fifteen items, it was recommended to have fourteen major boards/commissions listed along with one email subscriber for “all others”.
It was recommended that agendas be posted 72 hours in advance of a meeting instead of 48 hours. The City Council would be excluded from this requirement. This topic will be discussed in more detail at the groups next meeting.
There was a recommendation to have draft minutes of meetings posted sooner than the required 30 day requirement. It was agreed to discuss this meeting topic in more detail with City Clerk Cheryl LaPointe at the next Committee meeting.
There was a recommendation to have a link on the homepage for Legal Notices. Mr. Watkins will talk to the City’s web provider, Virtual Town Hall, about adding this link.
Mr. Kearney requested that Ms. Rennard’s handouts be emailed out to the group.
Ms. Rennard made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Ms. Jane Guy. The motion carried.
Next Meeting: Thursday, July 8th, 2010 at 6:00 pm
Meeting Adjourned 8:08 pm
Minutes Recorded by Tom Watkins