Monday, June 11, 2012

Marlborough selectmen sued again

Right-to-know violations alleged in suit

 By Garrett Brnger Sentinel Staff

MARLBOROUGH — Four months after a judge found that the Marlborough selectmen violated the state’s right-to-know law, a town resident says they’ve done so again.
Loretta J. Simonds is petitioning Cheshire County Superior Court to find selectmen in contempt of a January court order not to violate the right-to-know law.
She alleges violations including holding improper nonpublic meetings, making decisions outside of a public meeting and holding inaudible, indiscernible meetings, among others. She also says she improperly received 35 copies of sealed, nonpublic meeting minutes containing private, sensitive information.
For the new alleged violations of the law, she is asking the court to find selectmen in contempt of the January order. And she is asking that selectmen be removed from office for the alleged release of information.
Selectman John H. Northcott confirmed Sunday that he had been served paperwork on Friday — the same day Simonds filed her motion — but declined to comment. He said the town attorney had yet to see the papers.
Simonds, who was one of the plaintiffs in the original case against the board, said she obtained the data unintentionally when she asked for all the public minutes files dating from 2009 stored electronically.
Among those files, Simonds said, were nonpublic meeting minutes containing employee reprimands, hiring information and medical and welfare information.
Simonds also alleges selectmen violated the January court order on occasions ranging from the town budget hearing Feb. 9 to a selectmen’s meeting on May 21.
Simonds is also asking the court to invalidate a vote during the annual town meeting on whether to hire a part-time police officer (the measure was rejected by voters), and order a new town meeting.
She says in the court filing selectmen did not vote publicly on whether to support petition articles on the officer and a tax exemption for green energy systems, yet their recommendations were noted in the town report.
She also alleges selectmen did not discuss the article about the new officer at the town budget hearing, and is requesting it be invalidated.
In November, Simonds and another resident filed a suit against the selectmen, claiming a series of right-to-know violations.
Judge Philip P. Mangones found in a 52-page ruling on Jan. 31 that selectmen had failed to treat gatherings of selectmen as meetings, held meetings without any notice or without timely notice to the public, discussed town business outside of meetings through email, kept inaccurate minutes, and failed to disclose information to the public, including denying residents access to nonpublic meeting minutes.
Mangones ordered that selectmen not commit any further violations of the right-to-know law.
Both Northcott and Gina Paight were selectmen at the time of the ruling. Beverly Harris replaced Selectman Lawrence Robinson, who did not seek reelection, in March’s elections.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds exactly like the crooked crew we have here. They got sued for the same thing years ago;yet are doing the very same thing these Marlboro selectmen are doing and they too were warned in court. maybe it's time another suit was filed while the iron is hot.