Gardner City Council has a Flux Capacitor!
GRAVITAS . . . . Fair and Brutal Opinion (Trapped by Facts)
About Contributing Journalist Scott J. Graves in his own words
Scott J. Graves, Esq., B.S. Biology, M.S. Pharmacology, J.D. Law – Father, Born-and-Bred Gardnerien-American, Gardner Native of Acadien Heritage, Gardner High School Class of 1982, Gardner Citizen-Voter, Gardner Homeowner/Taxpayer, 30-year Gardner Business Owner, 30-year Gardner Lawyer, former 16-year Gardner City Councillor, former Gardner City Council President, and former Gardner City Solicitor and Head of the City of Gardner Law Department.
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February 10, 2022
This editorialist is a trained and experienced lawyer. Some seem to think that journalism and law shouldn’t mix. We are a government of laws, not of people (as John Adams pointed out). If you don’t understand how the laws apply, you don’t know government. Anyone expecting an apology from me for my law background should be expecting the opposite. Take what follows, for example.
On December 30, 2021 Council President Elizabeth Kazinskas sent a group email to all of the City Councillors. In it were her personal opinions that she knows best – and that the City Council must change and alter how it has conducted its legislative business in the City of Gardner for 100 years.
I get it. I mean – look at her background. Plus, she’s been a City Councillor for 4 whole years. Of course she knows best.
But, President Kazinskas is not permitted to share her opinions with the City Council like that. The Open Meeting Law prohibits her from sharing her opinions about substantive City Council matters with a quorum of City Councillors outside of a posted public meeting.
It’s called “Open Government.”
President Kazinskas’ shared her opinions in a December 30th group email with all 11 Councillors – outside of a posted public meeting.
Gardner Government Watch (GGW) then filed an Open Meeting Law Complaint with the City Council on January 28, 2022. This is the fourth (4) pending Open Meeting Law complaint where the City Council just keeps on doing this same thing, over and over and over again.
On February 3, 2022 the City Council issued its Response to GGW’s Open Meeting Law Complaint.
But, the City Council was not scheduled to have its Meeting to vote on this until February 7, 2022 – 4 days later.
Yes, this is Time Machine stuff. You ask, how could the City Council issue its decision 4 days prior to voting on it? Good question.
Here’s what happened. The City Council’s Feb. 3rd Response was really President Kazinskas’ opinion (given to her by the Mayor’s City Solicitor, John Flick, of course). So, to make the already bad situation worse by double, the President yet again put her opinions in another group email on Feb. 3rd – and, once again, shared it with all 11 City Councillors outside of a public meeting, just like she did with her December 30th email.
Gardner Government Watch obtained the February 4th Response. GGW then filed its Open Meeting Law Complaint with the Mass. Attorney General – which is what you have to do under the Open Meeting Law.
After all that, four (4) days later, the City Council thought it could put the genie back in the lamp at its Feb. 7th Meeting. At that Meeting, the City Council (just as it always does) wielded its Rubber-Stamp by “approving” the President’s said February 3rd Response. Rubber Stamp, Time Machine – whatever.
You might ask, “how can the City Council issue its Response on Feb. 3rd before the City Council even met to vote on it on Feb. 7th?”
It can’t. Under the Open Meeting Law the City Council cannot issue a Response until after it meets at a Public Meeting and reviews the Open Meeting Law Complaint in detail.
That’s not only the law, it’s also common sense. You can’t lick the envelope after you throw it into the mailbox.
Listen Now! A podcast on the latest Open Meeting Law Violation
Below, City council and City Council President’s response to earlier Open Meeting Law Complaint.
The City Council just keeps going along with this in-your-grill usurpation like a herd of sheep. In response to four (4) of these Open Meeting Complaints filed over the last couple of months, the City Council has had exactly zero (0) discussions (and zero debate) before it just Rubber-Stamps the Council President’s and Flick’s pre-made Responses. Zero point zero.
In this way, the unelected Mayoral/Executive Branch political appointee, John Flick, takes over the Legislative Branch’s role by single-handedly (with an obligatory and automatic assist from the accommodating Council President, of course) creating and issuing the City Council’s Response.
Flick does this without the City Council’s knowledge, and without any City Council vote – and that’s not opinion, that’s a fact.
After 100 years of a City Council, it took Kazinskas and Flick to save the City Council from the dangers of Open Government. It’s a wonder the City Council was ever able to operate at all before now.
Another question is this: what, exactly, did the City Council think it was doing at its Meeting on February 7th ? Apparently, the City Council thinks its big Rubber Stamp can seal the envelope after all of its contents have already spilled out in the mailbox.
This City Council is certainly not going to do anything about this – they are completely complicit.
So, what about Open Government? Can the Council President, and her Gardner Taxpayer-funded lawyer, keep cutting the City Council out of their private, behind the scenes meetings where they take away the City Council’s powers? Hopefully, the Attorney General will answer that question.
Our current City Councillors (except Councillors Boone and Hardern) don’t care that their roles are being usurped. They are just happy passing around their big Rubber Stamp – believing that the Citizenry is stupid (or sleepy) enough to assume that the Councillors are actually doing something.
Hopefully, our future City Councillors, and the Citizenry, are not stupid, and not sleepy, and will see exactly what is going on here. Stay tuned.
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