Concord Public Meeting Policy
LWVCC Letter to the Select Board - May 6, 2020
On March 10, 2020 Governor Charlie Baker issued an Executive Order suspending certain provisions of the state’s Open Meeting Law because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Concord’s response to this order, “Temporary Policy Directive And Guidelines For Public Meetings And Public Hearings Conducted Via Remote Participation Due To COVID-19 State of Emergency,” dated April 1, 2020, was introduced at the next meeting of the Concord Select Board. This policy implemented a strict interpretation of the Governor’s order and did not allow non-regulatory and non-executive boards and committees to meet.
There was no public discussion of the policy and it was unsigned; it is unclear who wrote it. After researching what similar towns are doing, several members of the LWVCC Town Government Committee thought it important to ask Concord officials why they had adopted such restrictive guidelines. A letter was drafted and approved by the League Board of Directors on May 6, 2020. This letter and its attachments were sent that day to the Select Board, Town Manager, and Town Moderator. During the May 7 meeting of the Select Board, the Town Manager announced he had revised the Town’s Temporary Public Meeting policy to allow Boards and Committees to meet virtually and to accept public comment.
Good governance is one of the cornerstones of the League’s advocacy. Even in times of emergency, it is important to maintain an open governmental system with opportunities for citizens to be informed and participate.
The May 6, 2020, LWVCC letter to the Concord Select Board, Moderator, and Town Manager includes three sample agendas from the Towns of Concord, Acton, and Westford. The three versions of the Town’s Covid-19 Meeting Policy (April 1, May 7, and May 7 revised) can also be viewed here.