Comment of the Day: Another Open Meetings Act Violation in the Flawed HMS Referendum Process?
Moments ago we received the following letter from former BOE member Yvonne Mayer. We are posting it as our Comment of the Day because we are disturbed that once again, there is another "flaw" in the referendum process that has been exposed. How can the community be expected to vote YES on any referendum question in the face of all the problems and legal issues that have occurred during the process leading to the March 15 election? SOUND OFF! Comment of the Day: Yvonne Mayer said...
Can they get nothing right? Below is a letter I just sent to Dr. White and the BOE. Feel free to post as a free standing comment.
Dear Dr. White and Board of Education Members:
I am writing to inform all of you of an alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act that was disclosed during yesterday's facilities committee. As you all should know, it is illegal for three or more board members to discuss substantive board business outside of a properly noticed open or closed meeting, or make decisions that are represented as full board directives. I was, shocked to learn at the 1 minute 43 second mark during the 1/27/16 facilities committee that Mr. Clarin had discussions with two other board members in the last couple of days which led him to represent to the entire Facilities Committee that the BOE had decided to focus only on $65 million options for a new HMS.
All of this was revealed during the first five minutes of the meeting. The meeting begins with one of the Cordogan representatives attempting to begin a discussion on the $55, $60 and $65 million options for a new HMS. As you all should recall, at the last board meeting, the BOE was very clear that the facilities committee and architect should prepare these three options for further discussion. The BOE approved language for a $65 million referendum question on the March 15 ballot, but there was enough dissent expressed by various board members that it was agreed that the committee and architect should continue trying to lower the cost. During yesterday's meeting, the Cordogan representative stated that they had prepared various iterations but at some point they needed to stop and get direction from the BOE and with that direction from the facilities committee that they could share wit the board. He then said he wanted to go over pros and cons developed for each of the $55, $60 and $65 million options they had developed.
It was at this point in the meeting, that Board Member Gary Clarin stopped him (00:1:42) and said:
"I’m going to stop you there because I had a discussion with a couple of board members over the last couple of days and I think we’d like to, we approved 65, I’d think we’d like to move forward at 65, whatever that may be, I think our financing needs to reflect 65, cause the community is going to need something soon and I know finance is tomorrow night. Um, we need to just work at 65. 55 was not what the board approved, we approved 65. If we can come in at 55, then so be it, but I think we need to start looking at 65, 64, whatever that iteration is and we need to go with that. I’m only one board member, but that’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to narrow this down, so we can work towards one thing, without trying to do all these iterations."
There have been NO publicly noticed board meetings in the "last couple of days" at which Mr. Clarin could have legally had a discussion with fellow board members leading to his representation that the BOE wanted to move forward with the $65 million option. In my opinion, his statement is an admission of a blatant open meetings act violation.
My only question to you is, which other board members participated in the discussion with Mr. Clarin and what authority did the three of you have to make decisions for the rest of the board?
If, by chance, this discussion did not actually take, place, then I would ask you to have Mr. Clarin explain his misrepresentation to the Facilities Committee yesterday.
I would like to know what Mr. Giltner and Ms. Garg think of Mr. Clarin's revelation, since I did not hear either of them comment during this part of the meeting on Clarin's representations.
I would appreciate an immediate response from Dr. White and BOE President Garg as to how this alleged violation will be handled, so that I can decide whether or not to file a Request for Review with the Attorney General's Office.