“A basic tenet of a healthy democracy is open dialogue and transparency.” – Peter Fenn
Mike's Plans for Increasing Transparency
Agenda to website
Mike supports making the town website the official and legal posting location for all public agendas. Under 940 CMR 29.00, towns such as Wilbraham may, by simple majority vote of the Selectboard, adopt the town website as their official and legal posting location.
As of January 2023, according to a spreadsheet entitled Municipal Posting Methods 1.26.2023 published by the Attorney General almost 60% of Massachusetts municipalities now use their website as the official posting.
Making the website the official town posting will help ensure that the majority of town residents have adequate and real time access to the business of the town. This change will allow residents to register for notifications of postings, providing more direct and convenient access to the content of meetings.
As many of the town committees already use the website to post their meetings, Mike sees this as a natural and proper next step toward a more transparent and effective operation of town government.
As a member of the Selectboard Mike would pursue a policy that all boards and public bodies in town be required to post the minutes of every meeting to the town website within a week from the formal approval of the minutes.
The Open Meeting Law does not require minutes to be available in such manner - even if the town were to adopt the its website as the official posting. This policy would go beyond the requirements of Open Meeting Law and promote a more transparent process.
Providing access to the discussions directly and timely is the responsibility of town leadership. It is the only way that we can continue to build a Wilbraham that allows everyone to work together and provide effective oversight.
Another policy that Mike would support is to end the practice of amending publicly posted agendas within 48 hours of the meeting; a proposal which is consistent with the Open Meeting Law.
According to the Open Meeting Law Guide of 2018, it is advised that any discussion or action related to a topic should be posted 48 hours in advance. It is recognized that certain situations may require immediate action, but it should not become a frequent and predictable occurrence, which appears to be the case with Wilbraham's Selectboard. Mike acknowledges this guideline and its significance.