The Housing Advisory Board scheduled a meeting for Monday, June 30, 2014, at 3 pm in Town Hall, but the board failed to post an agenda on the calendar at Brookline’s Web site. An investigation on foot found no written notice or agenda posted on the bulletin board outside the town clerk’s office and none in the town clerk’s records.
The Housing Advisory Board failed to satisfy requirements of the state’s open meeting laws and the Brookline bylaws for public meetings. Board members might shake hands but would otherwise be unable to transact public business. Shortly before noon on June 30, the meeting proposed for that afternoon was cancelled.
The recent problem was discovered simply by examining Brookline’s online event calendar. Anyone with Internet access could have done the same. A 3 pm inspection of the previously designated meeting room at Town Hall, on June 30, found Virginia Bullock, a housing project planner who provides staff support for the Housing Advisory Board, engaged in discussions with two other people, but no meeting of the Housing Advisory Board was underway.
Brookline has experienced substandard compliance with open meeting laws. Regina Frawley, a Precinct 16 town meeting member, has been notably vigilant. She was not a source for this article. She was the main sponsor for a recent bylaw requiring boards and commissions who present views on warrant articles at town meetings to hold public hearings about the issues prior to the town meetings.
A major defect in Brookline’s current online calendar is lack of verifiable, public time stamps on notices and agendas. Time is of the essence; a notice must appear 48 hours or more before a public meeting. Written notices that are posted and filed at the town clerk’s office carry imprints from an electromechanical time recorder, providing verifiable time stamps for posting.
– Beacon staff, Brookline, MA, June 30, 2014