Trustee Orientation: Vermont Open Meeting LawPresentation Transcript
AMY HOWLETT VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF LIBRARIES, 2/2/11 Trustee Orientation: Vermont Open Meeting Law
Everyone participates, no one dominates
Disagree with grace and tact
There’s no such thing as a stupid question
Stretch or take a break if it’s necessary
Meetings start on time and end on time– or early
Thanks to Lawrence Webster of Webster Consulting
Open Meeting Law
Other issues to cover tonight?
A GUIDE TO OPEN MEETINGS
REVISED AUGUST 2006
DEBORAH MARKOWITZ, VERMONT SECRETARY OF STATE
A MANUAL FOR VERMONT LIBRARY TRUSTEES
Vermont Open Meeting Law
Public meetings 47
A majority of board members come together to discuss public business
Meeting Law applies to committees of boards
Public notice is required
Members of the public must be allowed to speak
Written minutes available within five days
Executive session excludes the public
Minutes 46, 50
Minutes are public records
Must be available within five days of the meeting
Must include all names of all members of the public body at the meeting and other active participants
Must record all motions, proposals, resolutions, and the results of any vote taken
Minutes are not a transcript of the meeting
Clerk of the board is the source for copies of minutes; interested parties may review, get copy at actual cost
Public notice 47
Regular meeting : board adopts a resolution outlining its schedule and makes it public. Agenda must be available if the public specifically requests.
Special meeting : board may meet at other times by posting the agenda in three places, one at the Town Clerk’s office, and sending it to each board member 24 hours before the meeting begins. Notice must be given to any media that have requested it.
Emergency meeting : board responds to “condition requiring immediate attention”; rarely used
Public Comment 48
“ Public comment period is not a free-for-all. The chair of the board is allowed by law to establish reasonable rules to ensure civility and avoid delay, and reasonable limitations on the amount of time for each speaker are not unusual or improper. “
Comment at the beginning of the meeting
Comment at the end of the meeting
Comment whenever anyone present has something to add; how does this work?
Adversarial public comment
How can the board position table, chairs, and the room for effective audience attention?
Are there effective meeting practices that can be used during the meeting and public comment period?
Consider time limits if many people wish to speak; interruption if the chair or a member needs a break; using the chair’s power to rule someone out of order, member’s right to ask about a “point of order”
Executive Session 48-9
Entering Executive Session
Motion and vote by a majority; both noted in the minutes of the meeting
Motion must include the reason, from the list given by the legislature
Reasons to enter Executive Session 49
Appointment/ employment/ evaluation of employee
Disciplinary or dismissal action against employee
Clear and imminent peril to the public safety
Discussion of records that are not public documents under the access to public records act
Usually Executive Session is used when the board discusses the director’s performance in a regular board meeting or in the Personnel Committee
What actually happens? 49
Someone makes a motion: I move the board enter Executive Session in order to discuss a personnel issue. [from the list]
Someone seconds the motion: I second.
The clerk notes the motion and second.
The chair says to the public: We’re going into Executive Session. You can wait outside; we’ll let you know when the Session ends.
The board leaves the Session at a particular time; public invited back in, and board may take action
What actually happens? 49
Board may not take action in Executive Session except for entering a real estate purchase option
Any action must be handled by motion and vote in the meeting after the Executive Session ends
In Executive Session the board discusses the issue
Only the subject matter of the motion to enter Executive Session may be discussed
Board may invite its staff, clerks, legal counsel, and persons whose information is needed
Guide to Open Meetings 49
“ Boards should close their meetings rarely, and then only for legitimate purposes. If the subject is already well known to the community, even if the board is able to find a category to cite, there is no justification for entering executive session.”
“ The open meeting law should be enforced with the same spirit in which it is written. It is a guide to proper behavior by public officials. Sometimes boards make mistakes.
In cases where the offense is unintentional, the best remedy is often to ensure that the board understands how the law works so that it does it right the next time.”
Other questions about Open Meeting?
Vermont Secretary of State Office
(802) 828- 2363
For a Library Development Consultant…
Rob Geiszler, for Addison, Chittenden & Rutland counties [email_address] (802) 786-3839