GUILFORD SELECTBOARD – SPECIAL MEETING
Wednesday, 21 December 2022, 9:00 a.m, 236 School Road, Guilford, VT
SELECTBOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Zon Eastes, Chair
Selectboard Members Present via Zoom: Richard Wizansky, Rusty Marine, Michael Becker, Verandah Porche
I. Call to Order at 9:03
II. Rules of Procedure and community engagement
III. New Business – Jason Herron’s Open Meeting Law Violation #9
- Allegation #9: On December 15, 2022, Jason Herron alleged that Selectboard Chair Zon Eastes and the Town of Guilford Selectboard violated the Open Meeting Law because, at the end of budget workshops on October 27, 2022 and December 1, 2022, Mr. Eastes asked the Selectboard to please stay on after the workshop. As proof of the violation, Mr. Herron cites 1 V.S.A. § 310(2) of the Open Meeting Law, which defines a meeting as, “a gathering of a quorum of the members of a public body for the purpose of discussing the business of the public body or for the purpose of taking action.” Mr. Herron states that, “[b]y failing to give proper notice of this meeting and failing to provide the public an opportunity to participate, by expressing its opinion on whatever business was discussed by the public body, the selectboard has violated the open meeting law.”
- Mr. Herron cites the definition of “meeting” under 1 V.S.A. § 310(2) as proof that Mr. Eastes violated the Open Meeting Law when he asked the Selectboard to stay behind after the budget workshops. However, Mr. Herron may not realize that there are certain exceptions to this definition. Pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 310(3)(B), a “meeting” under the Open Meeting Law shall not mean any communication, including in person or through email, telephone, or teleconferencing, between members of a public body for the purpose of scheduling a meeting, organizing an agenda, or distributing materials to discuss at a meeting. (emphasis added.) In both instances Mr. Herron references, Mr. Eastes asked Selectboard members to stay on after the workshop so that he could distribute materials to discuss at a future meeting. Gathering to distribute materials is not a violation of the Open Meeting Law, as this does not constitute a meeting pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 310(3)(B).
- The Selectboard members understand that, after Chairman Eastes distributed the materials, if any Selectboard member asked a question or discussed anything outside of scheduling or organizing an agenda, it would be a violation of the Open Meeting Law. As a precautionary measure, the Selectboard will acknowledge that it understands that it may not discuss other business of the Town when materials are being distributed. No actions were taken after the budget workshops that need to be voided or ratified.
- Pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 314(c), when a person is aggrieved by a denial of an Open Meeting Law violation, that person may bring an action in the Civil Division of the Vermont Superior Court
- ACTION: Zon moved that the Selectboard deny the allegation, Verandah seconded. All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried.
- Discussion related to trust of elected officials and the fact that state statute does not always address each situation specifically.
IV. Adjournment : Richard moved and Verandah seconded that the meeting be adjourned. All were in favor. None were opposed. No one abstained. Motion carried. The meeting adjourned at 9:24 a.m.
Link to meeting video: see www.guilfordvt.gov
Next Selectboard Meeting: Wednesday, 12.28.22 at 6:30 p.m.
Zon Eastes, Chair _____________________________________
Michael Becker _____________________________________
Rusty Marine _____________________________________
Verandah Porche _____________________________________
Richard Wizansky ____________________________________