Tisbury selectmen ship up to Boston

Board cancels meeting after it was called into question.

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Members of the Tisbury board of selectmen, from left, Jim Rogers, chair Melinda Loberg, and Jeff Kristal. The board has scheduled an open meeting in Boston.

Updated Jan. 27

The Tisbury board of selectmen canceled a Saturday meeting in Boston after the legality of the meeting was called into question.

If you wanted to attend that meeting, it would have required a ferry ride, a drive to Boston, parking at the Prudential Center, and finding the board on the third floor concourse of the Hynes Convention Center.

Selectman Jeff Kristal confirmed the meeting was canceled, but referred questions about it to the board’s chair Melinda Loberg. Loberg has not returned phone messages or an email about the meeting.

The board posted a meeting for Saturday at 12 noon with four agenda items including: Beach Road development projects, spring and summer festival schedule, committee mission statements and charges, and event planning. Though the meeting was posted with town clerk Hillary Conklin, it was not on the town’s website, and the typical email blasts of the agenda were not sent out.

The board was in Boston to attend the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) annual meeting. The MMA brings together selectmen from across the state to talk about issues and legislation that could affect town governments.

There was a separate posting on the town clerk’s bulletin board, a posting Conklin described as a “CYA posting” for chance meetings, as well as discussions with the town’s attorney, to cover the board while they were at the convention. That’s something the board has done for years as a way to avoid violating the Open Meeting Law, Conklin said.

But it’s the posted meeting away from the Island that raised questions about the board’s motives. The Times spotted the posting at Tisbury Town Hall Friday.

“I was shocked,” said Lynne Fraker, who is an outspoken critic of the board. “I went into the town hall looking for something else, and saw that meeting posted. They’re talking about something very important, which is the charge of committees. That really concerns me.”

Fraker was talking about the natural resources committee, a fledgling board that’s having trouble finding its way and has recently asked selectmen for more direction.

Upon learning the board would convene in Boston, longtime Tisbury resident Len Morris said,

“That’s preposterous.” 

Reached Friday, selectman Jim Rogers declined to speak to the legality of the meeting, but said the board saw it as an opportunity to deal with some issues while all three are together. The board has had difficulty scheduling meetings of late where all three members can attend.

“Because we’re all going to be at the same place, we wanted to discuss a few things,” Rogers said. “We’re not trying to hide anything … I think I’ve shown I’m all about the people, the taxpayers, and I wouldn’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that.”

A spokesman for state Attorney General Maura Healey could not comment, but shared the process of filing a complaint. Under the state’s Open Meeting Law, a complaint is typically filed with the board, and if the response is unsatisfactory, an appeal can be filed with the AG’s office.

The Times has filed a complaint with the board about its scheduled meeting.

Updated with the fact that board did not meet as planned.

 

22 COMMENTS

  1. Keep Beach Road running, with a little artistic license, we can thank the Drop Kick Murphy’s for the selectmen’s traveling theme song…

    ‘I’m a selectman peg
    And I’ve lost my leg
    Climbing On steamship rails
    I’ve lost my leg!
    I’m shipping up to Boston, whoa
    I’m shipping up to Boston, whoa
    I’m shipping up to Boston, whoa
    I’m shipping off to find my wooden leg
    I’m a selectman peg
    And I’ve lost my brain
    Are we taking the train
    I’ve lost my leg!’

    I hope they find it cause it’s hard standing on just one!

  2. This is so wrong Tisbury. Where is the transparency? Makes me wonder how many thousands of other times they have done this that we will never know about.

  3. Reading about how the Selectmen have decided to proceed against Trip Barnes after his many years of service to the Town of Tisbury and to the entire island has made me question the actual motives of these three selectmen. I think it could have been handled differently, give him a realistic time frame to bring his rental units up to code, and then proceed accordingly. Tying his used car resale license to that issue stinks like old cheese. Then the questionable back and forth during the Natural Resources Committee meeting was a bit hard to understand. Now three people who live and work in our little town can’t figure out how to all be at the scheduled public meetings …… C’mon. This is truly outrageous. It’s past time these three be replaced as their terms come up. There are many talented and smart people in town, hopefully a few will decide to step up and volunteer their time.

  4. This is bad, it’s wrong, unjust, how about access for the public that can not afford to travel to Boston, ferry, bus, meals, subway or taxi. You the selectman are wrong headed and out of touch.

  5. Again, the usual suspects complaining. when you have all people together for whatever reason, that is the time to have discussions about relevant things. Everyone has a chance for input. Instead of he said, she said scenario.

    • Sure but what about the community they serve? They were elected and knew they needed to make time for scheduled meetings in the town where they serve. If they can’t they should resign.

    • Rather than criticizing and bullying those who have the courage to question authority, as you always do, why not stop posting anonymously. How does the public have a real chance for input at a meeting in Boston? So you believe this meeting is not relevant? Any Selectmen who believes this should resign.

  6. I couldn’t find anything in the open meeting law (940 CMR 29.00: OPEN MEETINGS) that states they can’t hold a meeting off island. The only questionable thing I could find is there is supposed to be an “ official notice of posting a meeting” if it’s at town hall than it seems legal since they posted it within 48 hours of the meeting. if they adopted the website as the official means and didn’t post it there….that could be an issue. The question of whether or not they SHOULD is a whole different matter. In reality they don’t have to take public comment at any meeting and all meetings must have minutes made available within a certain time frame. I’m curious what the lodged complaint the times made actually is and what part of the law they are basing the complaint on🤷‍♀️

    • The complaint centers on the posting of the meeting. While it was posted at the town clerk’s office, the board has posted all other meetings on its website. This meeting was not posted there. The town also sends out the agenda to people who sign up for that service online. That didn’t happen either. The OML addresses that here: “For meetings of a local public body, notice shall be filed with the municipal clerk and posted in a manner conspicuously visible to the public at all hours in or on the municipal building in which the clerk’s office is located.”

    • SYMV I shared your question as to if it violates the OML, and the question
      has been posed to the AG. It does violate public trust. And it would be difficult for a person with disabilities to get to this meeting from the Island, an OML violation. Violation or not, it’s disappointing that the Board chooses to do Town business at a meeting constituents cannot attend. Website is not the official means of posting and I have advocated that the website be adopted as a secondary posting for ALL meetings. Select Board meetings have been posted on the website and through email, this one was not.

      • While a person with disabilities (or not) may find it difficult to attend there is no accessibility issue as the ferry, buses and building (I’m assuming) are all accessible so I doubt it violates OML.
        I do agree with the trust issue if they always post on the website and send emails they should have for this one too but I doubt it will violate the OML…We shall see.

  7. Certainly there will be a tape recording of the meeting that wlil be transcribed which will be available to the public. As for public input, well, that’s another thing.

    • Phil– If there is a transcript, let’s just hope it’s a complete transcript, and not a partial one edited by the ssa managers.

  8. I am very disappointed that the Board cannot get it together to meet and do Town business in front of their constituents, OML violation or not. It’s about trust and transparency. Selectmen should have let the public know about this meeting the same way all their meetings are noticed. It is about the appearance of disrespect for their constituency . I know mvtv is going to try to get to this meeting, although they also were not notified. There is still time to take out nomination papers for Selectman and I hope there is someone who cares enough about their constituents to run for Selectman. The agenda includes Beach Road Development, festival schedules, Committee charges, event planning. The discussion on Committee charges and missions has to include the important discussion about the dysfunctional Natural resources Committee. Dont think that’s important? Do you care about the Harbor and town Resources? Watch the Committee meetings on mvtv.

    • Lynn, I have tried to watch the committee meetings on MVTV but they are completely mind-numbing. Rarely do all 3 selectpersons show up, and when all 3 do come together they are continuously pushing agenda items to the next meeting and then mysteriously, poof!, the items don’t make it onto the next agenda. A lot of smoke and mirrors going on and no progress ever being made.Tisbury needs new leadership!

  9. So if the selectmen wanted to meet and vote in LA that is allowed? I say go ahead and meet but don’t vote until the same meeting is held on the island.

  10. The selectmen’s field trip raises several very important questions:
    1- was this abrupt departure from our fair isle because the selectmen caught a whiff of tar and feathers wafting in their direction after their deplorable treatment of Mr. Barnes.
    2-did they plan to travel to Boston in the town clown car together or use other means of transport at taxpayer expense.
    3-if traveling together do they have an official scribe to record their conversations, if so who would that be.
    4- are they meeting this week on the island or just partying all week in bean town.
    5- where are the Farrelly brothers when we need them—- theres’s just something about the selectmen.

  11. Legal or not, this is a bad look for the Selectmen. But in their defense, anytime they will be together and discussing town business, it constitutes a meeting and must be posted as such. Its just another example of poor optics and judgment.

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