whether that group of officers is a public body that must comply with the open meeting law depends on whether the group is structured in such a way as to allow for collective action to be taken by the leadership group, or whether the officers merely perform an administrative function on behalf of the sepac as a whole. c. 4, § 2a, contains separate requirements for executive sessions and notice for them: private or executive meetings of each special commission shall be open to the public unless a majority of the members of such commission shall vote otherwise. it states that a meeting subject to the open meeting law shall not include “a meeting of a quasi-judicial board or commission held for the sole purpose of making a decision required in an adjudicatory proceeding brought before it.” must all members of a public body sign the attorney general’s open meeting law certification form, or only newly appointed or elected members? however, a general or special law, executive order, or other authorizing provision may provide for the quorum of a public body to be a majority of the members serving on the body. however, members of public bodies must be careful not to engage in deliberation with the other members of the public body through such communications. may members of public bodies who are physically present at a meeting use electronic messaging, such as text messaging or email, to communicate with members of the public during that meeting? thus, employee evaluations that members of a public body create and then use during an open meeting to evaluate an employee are public records. individuals who allege a violation of the open meeting law must first file a complaint with the public body alleged to have violated the oml. open meeting law complaints must be filed with the public body alleged to have committed a violation within 30 days of the date the violation occurred or, if the complainant could not have known about the violation, within 30 days of the date that the violation should reasonably have been discovered. the open meeting law prohibits serial communication between or among members of a public body that reach a quorum of members outside of a noticed meeting. a request for minutes under the open meeting law must be made to the public body.
a request for minutes that is directed to a public body will trigger the requirements of the open meeting law. a public body may convene in executive session under the original purpose for the executive session, or it may convene in executive session pursuant to g.l. yes, the public body must treat the meeting as though it is a new meeting for the purposes of notice posting. accordingly, the specific information must be included on or with the notice itself; it is not acceptable for a meeting notice to refer members of the public to another location to find the required information. for instance, a board of selectmen may choose to adopt a policy saying that no member of any public body in the town may participate remotely in more than three meetings each year. massachusetts general laws state that applications for tax abatement or exemption may only be disclosed to a select group of public officials, though certain information about the application must be made public if it is granted. in contrast, all members of the public have a right to attend any open session meeting of a public body; therefore, an applicant for tax abatement or exemption may be present during any open session discussion by a board of assessors of his or her application. while the open meeting law requires that a public body release executive session minutes once the executive session purpose has expired, a public body may still redact or withhold minutes subject to the exemptions to the public records law contained within clause twenty-sixth of g.l. a public body may enter executive session under purpose 2 to “conduct collective bargaining sessions” and under purpose 3 to “discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body and the chair so declares.” g.l. does the division have jurisdiction to find a violation of the open meeting law if members of a public body make untrue comments during a meeting or disparage an individual? is it a violation of the open meeting law if a public body fails to provide documents in response to a request for public records? c. 30a, § 22(c), inquiries concerning requests for all other types of documents from public bodies should be directed to the supervisor of records at (617) 727-2832. does the division have jurisdiction to find a violation of the open meeting law if a member of a public body behaves unethically or acts with a conflict of interest?
the open meetings law applies to “public bodies.” committee staff prepares written advisory opinions in response to particular sets of facts and circumstances. for example, if you were interested in knowing whether a board is required to post notice of its meetings online, you would review opinions by clicking on “n” in the above index, then scrolling down to “notice.” please note that more recent opinions have been assigned higher numbers. the opinions represent the views of the committee on open government at the time that they were rendered.
due to the repetition of the substance of various opinions, not all opinions are available online. advisory opinions that are not available online, primarily those prepared prior to 1993, are maintained by the committee on open government and at various law libraries throughout the state. “your right to know” is a publication of the committee on open government providing an overview of both the freedom of information law (foil) and the open meetings law (oml). “your right to know” is a publication of the committee on open government that provides an overview of the freedom of information law (foil) and the open meetings law (oml). it offers practical guidance regarding how to obtain records under foil, including the time and manner in which an agency must respond to a foil request and the remedies available if it fails to do so.
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