Thursday, June 13, 2013

GCSD Lawyers Should Be Sued For Malpractice

Following Open Govt/Open Meetings Laws should NOT require a degree in rocket science, or even the law!

Anonymous said...
Whoever wants to accuse the board of violating the law should spell it out. It's not at all obvious that they're doing anything illegal. Wrong, maybe, in a general sense of not being responsive to their constituents, but the law seems to allow their conduct.

For instance, it is mentioned above that not being specific about which contracts they're discussing is a flagrant violation of the law.

But para 105 of the law says that what is required is only "a motion identifying the general area or areas of the subject or subjects to be considered". So citing personnel issues, contract issues, etc seems to meet the requirement. 6/12/2013 11:39 AM

Anonymous said...
11:39 - Please. Leave your apologetics elsewhere It's clear as day. The board breaks flagrantly violates open meetings law.

"Based on a recent decision of the Appellate Division, as well as earlier decisions, a motion cannot merely parrot the language of a statutory ground for conducting an executive session. It is clear that describing an issue as a “personnel matter,” a “legal matter,” or “contracts,” without more, is inadequate and fails to comply with law. In short, the decision confirms that a motion to conduct an executive session should include information sufficient to enable the public to believe that there is a valid basis for closing the doors." 6/13/2013 1:36 AM


Anonymous said...

So, who is going to take the initiative and actually DO something about it?

SCATS said...

To 10:49AM ~~ Board members are the only ones who can, realistically.

Anonymous said...

Wait, if the board members are truly breaking some sort of "law," we should expect THEM to report themselves? Can't someone ELSE initiate the process to hold them accountable?

Anonymous said...

Anyone in the affected community (that's us) who thinks they're wrong (the BOE) can sue (that's how the court cases cited in the root post came about).

Most likely they'd not be able to get anything other than voiding of any decisions reached improperly in executive session, plus lawyer's fees.

And most likely they'd not even get that. It's not as clear as the fellow who says "clear as day" thinks it is.

SCATS said...

To 11:59AM ~~ Of course.

To 12:02PM ~~ What is painfully clear is that the Greece BOE continues to behave arrogantly, thumbing their noses at laws, rules, policies & regulations. There is no actual punishment, aside from the potential embarrassment of having their hands caught in the cookie jar.

It's too bad they refuse to comply even minimally. Wouldn't it be nice if they took the high road & actually went beyond the minimum requirement? Back to reality ...

Anonymous said...

12:02 - You sound like a BOE member trying to justify illegal behavior because the law's somewhat toothless. It is clear as day that the board's operating illegally. It doesn't so far look like the board's gone wild enough yet to start holding its votes only during their executive session, so that wouldn't be an issue for the courts. But, a citizen could petition the court for a declaratory judgement finding that the board is in violation of open meetings law. Didn't you read the linked case?
If someone were to do that, they'd absolutely win. It's well-established case law that it's insufficient just to recite the boilerplate statutory language when going into executive session.
You can whinge and cry because it's just plain easier for the board to hide what it's doing from the public, but all your moaning doesn't make what they're doing legal.

Anonymous said...

The open meetings law is one thing. However, what constitutes a MEETING is governed by board policy which states that all business meetings of the board,
will be conducted in accordance with parliamentary procedure as outlined in ROBERT'S RULES OF ORDER. In order for business to be conducted at such meeting,
a quorum of members of the board must be present to conduct any and all business of the district. Accordingly, the board policy sets the quorum necessary at five members, a simple majority of the nine member board. Absent a quorum, those in attendance may be at liberty to discuss any non personnel or legal issues on the agenda but cannot move or vote on any agenda items. Or the
president can adjourn the meeting due to the lack of a quorum. In the case of an emergency that requires board action situations, when the required 24hr public
notice of a meeting and it's purpose is time constrained, the President is allowed to poll the members by use of phone or other means in order to deal with the emergency situation in the required timely manner.

With regard to the allegations that this board during executive sessions discusses and votes on agenda items in this setting it's hard to believe and harder to prove. Discussion of certain agenda items is obviously disscussed during these session which does not violate open meeting laws unless some decisions are made at this time. All board members are aware of the penalties involved in so doing or divulging what was discussed at these sessions. A board found guilty of this practice or an individual member found guilty of divulging
information to others can and will be dismissed by the State Education Commissioner. There have been documented cases where entire boards have been dissolved by the Commissioner for this very practice.

Since this belief that the board is indeed operating in an illegal manner will not go away , I would strongly recommend that the NEW BOARD hire an independant
parliamentarian to attend all meetings of the board, including executive sessions, and render opinions based on parliamentary procedures as outlined in
Roberts Rules and Open Meeting laws. A Parliamentarian is a person deemed to be an expert in this area of correct meeting protocol. I believe the minimal
related cost would be well worth it if it serves to restore confidence and perceived lack of transparency attached to our BOE.

Anonymous said...

SCAT - Exactly. The board has a choice -- and each of its 9 members has the same individual choice. Will you do what is right and be a model for open government and transparency, or will you take the low road and continue to obfuscate and prevaricate while thumbing your nose at the law.

Keeping everything hidden sure worked when it comes to keeping those meetings short, sweet and devoid of constituents, didn't it?

That's been the aim all along - to tamp down the embarrassment that comes with open and honest public discussion.

This board regards the people of Greece with contempt.

SCATS said...

To 9:50AM ~~ I've never said they voted in closed door session, but discussion of items that don't require closed doors is another thing entirely.

Also, it is my belief that the BOE is using phone calls, texting, emailing, etc. to "discuss" business BEFORE meetings occur, thereby bypassing the community's opportunity to hear their positions, questions & obtain info on what is really happening. There are dozens & dozens of items in the past 2 years that received essentially NO PUBLIC DISCUSSION time before they voted. Example: How can they decide what properties/buildings to sell, establish a sale price, hire a realtor, etc. with NO discussion? Well it's just one thing that happened without OPEN DISCUSSION.

Anonymous said...

For 12:22, no, not a member of the board, but someone familiar with administrative procedures generally.

I read the court case. But it only lays a requirement to narrow down the disjunctions in the law rather than cite the entire disjunction as a reason. The BOE has been doing that, as near as I can tell from posted examples.

If you think otherwise, sue them. See what happens. I predict you’ll lose.

SCATS said...

To 5:58AM ~~ They do NOT follow the law. They have NOT been following it in years! The last time they made ANY EFFORT to try to comply was shortly after HMO was elected. Again, they do NOT begin discussions of something, say a contract, and THEN call an Exec. Session, which is what they should do!

Also, it is ALWAYS the generic excuse given: employment history, contracts, personnel, etc. If they even attempted to do it correctly sometimes, it would be a HUGE improvement. There is no reason why they can't say they are going to discuss the Supt's contract, or the GTA contract, etc. It's been done that way years ago.

SCATS said...

By the way, I've seen snippets of other school district's board meetings on TV news. They make us look very bad!!

Anonymous said...

So do we wait for the AG to investigate the GCSD again? It would be hard to vote out members when we cannot even get enough candidates to fill the slate. It seems that we, the good people of Greece, have given up and will let this band of miscreants have their way with our schools and our children. Those are harsh words, but from what I read in this blog, that is about the way it is.

SCATS said...

To 7:52PM ~~ Maybe we could get the FBI to do a two-fer??