Northampton Board of Health reviews open meeting law complaint filed against it

Northampton Board of Health reviews open meeting law complaint filed against it
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 10:39 PM EDT
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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -The Northampton Board of Health held a special meeting Wednesday evening to discuss an open meeting law complaint filed against them in light of a recent mask advisory put in place.

The complaint originated on May 31, when the Board of Health issued a mask advisory for the city. The complaint filed alleges they didn’t follow the proper procedures. Western Mass News spoke to Patrick Boughan, co-founder of Mash Choice Pioneer Valley, who filed the complaint. He asked for more transparency from the board.

“We vowed to put sufficient notice into our meeting agendas so that people when they go to public comment, which precedes the meeting, can meaningfully comment on any of the actions that the board is taking, and one of those things is normally vote on the agenda if you’re going to take a vote. So the Board of Health at their most recent meeting implemented a mask advisory via vote and didn’t describe it as such in their agenda and so therefore, under the states open meeting law that vote is not valid and so there is no mask advisory in effect,” Boughan explained.

The board reviewed the complaint and heard from city attorney Alan Seewald.

“The requirement is that we list the topics that we will discuss. There is no obligation ever to forecast what the discussion will be about, what the outcome of the discussion will be, or if any votes will be taken. That’s not part of the open meeting law. The open meeting law says you must list topics,” Seewald explained.

Seewald went on to say that in his opinion the topic was adequately listed on the agenda.