THE OPEN MEETING LAW – DOES IT MATTER IN GARDNER?

GRAVITAS . . . . Fair and Brutal Opinion (Trapped by Facts)

Headshot of Contributing Writer Scott J. Graves
 M the Media Project

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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We filed an Open Meeting Law in connection with the city government’s latest charade against Open Government.

We had no choice. It was necessary because the Citizens have no idea what Gardner City Hall did when they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar (by us) – and time was running out.  All city officials, all of them, were quite satisfied that the powers-that-be had swept it all under the City Hall rug – and have done nothing about it.

 So, with time running out (you only have 30 days), someone had to do something.

 Who else?

As you all know by now, on February 22, 2022 Gardner City Hall moved forward with a scheme to recall James Boone from his government office as a Monty Tech School Committee member – when he had two years remaining in his term.

We don’t know why our Government did that, or how. We don’t know because they never told us – even though the Open Meeting Law requires informed notice to the Citizens.

There are no objective facts, and no lawful grounds, that we could look at on our own for Gardner government’s recall of Boone from office. 

There was another small problem – Boone still had two years remaining in his current term!

It’s hard to believe, but true, that a government would actually remove a sitting elected official from office with two years remaining in his term, and put his two years up for election to the Mayor’s cousin (or to anyone).  We now know that our  Gardner municipal government did this.

What’s scary is that Gardner government is doing these things in plain daylight.

We ask you, our fellow Citizens, to wake up.

We all know James Boone – he has been elected several times by the 21,000 Citizens of Gardner as a City Councilor – most recently in November of 2021 for another 2-year term.

To say that Councillor Boone has the approval of the Citizenry is proven. But, on February 22, 2022 the Citizens had no say, and that’s just not good government.

The Citizens, after all, don’t know what goes on at city hall.  Does City Hall think it’s better if they tell us what we need or tell us what we think?  It would appear that is how City Hall wants it to be.  It’s working.

Boone is one of the two or three City Councillors who don’t agree with the Mayor 100% of the time. Therefore, he needs to go.  We don’t need elected leaders who do not subscribe to the Ruling Class City Hall ideology and orthodoxy. That’s not being a team member, that’s not being an optimist, that’s not being cooperative.  That’s being, well, a “problem.”  Problems must be got rid of. 

So, as fate would have it, COVID-19 presented City Hall with a splendid opportunity to exploit the COVID-19 State of Emergency.  And, just like magic, Boone was recalled from his seat as a Monty Tech School Committee member, under the cover of darkness without notice to anyone – not even to Boone himself.  Can you imagine that?

But, Gardner City Hall still had to make it look, well, “official.”

Undaunted by things such as the rule of law, Gardner City Hall set up this so-called “Joint Convention” on 2/22/22.  That was an election where the voters are City Councilors, the Mayor, and the Gardner School Committee members.  They were all called together to get rid of Boone by official vote at a City election.

The only candidate to take Boone’s two remaining years on the Monty Tech School Committee was the Mayor’s cousin.

So, when Boone’s executioners met on 2/22/22, first they performed a “legitimate” election.  They voted to replace the incumbent, Matt Vance, with the Mayor’s uncle (who is an impressive human, and highly qualified, by the way).

But, the “Joint Convention” did that by sharing amongst themselves, behind closed doors, certain attendance records that were provided prior to the vote with the pernicious insinuation that they were somehow derogatory against Vance.  We believe that was in violation of the Open Meeting Law – a public body can’t “deliberate” amongst themselves behind closed doors prior to the open meeting. Sharing information amongst a quorum (majority) like that prior to the vote is not allowed.

Then, they were going to do the same thing to Boone – the only candidate to inherit Boone’s remaining two years was the Mayor’s cousin. So, the cousin wasn’t going to win his own seat, he was going to win Boone’s seat.

But, the scheme to make Boone’s recall look “official” had gotten busted in the hours leading up to this sham government election.

So, like “The Wolf” in Pulp Fiction, a professional “cleaner” quickly shut down the public meeting on 2/22/22 right in the middle of the election.

That’s because Gravitas had sniffed this out and began making waves in the hours leading up to the 2/22/22 charade to vote to give Boone’s seat to the Mayor’s cousin. When Gravitas got involved behind the scenes, whispers, rumblings, and scramblings happened within the high ranks of the City Hall “powers-that-be.” 

So, when the election came around a few hours later, they had scrambled and come up with a plan to make it all go away. It was like, “hey guys, let’s get this off TV as soon as possible and then we’ll just sweep it under the rug later – when no one is looking, and it will all go away quietly – I have an idea . . . .” 

So, the Council President had barely gotten five words out of her mouth reading Boone’s warrant when The Wolf interrupted her, and shut it all down.

Nothing to see hear.

So, the Citizens watching were saying “what just happened?”

The Citizens have been waiting ever since to how this ends. 

But, guess what?  It has already ended.

You would never have known that it ended.  It ended on March 18th – when the City Hall powers-that-be officially swept it under the City Hall rug, inconspicuously and quietly.

Nothing to see here.

One member, Elizabeth Kazinskas, took it upon herself to call it a wrap. 

Here’s what happened.  Monty Tech, of course, was outraged that Gardner blamed their institution for this unlawful City of Gardner charade – and, when Monty Tech told Gardner that in writing, Kazinskas decided that she had the sole and unilateral power to make a final decision for the “Joint Convention.” So, she ruled that there was no further “need” for their services.  End of story.

Of the 17 members of this “Joint Convention,” they were all good with that.  Can you imagine this?

Did you know about any of this?  Of course you didn’t.  They did it under the cover of darkness, behind your backs, without your knowledge. 

This is part and parcel of the Gardner City Hall’s policy: The Citizens don’t need to know this, it’s for their own good.  An uninformed Citizen is an obedient Citizen.  That’s just a given – didn’t you read Orwell’s 1984?

Gravitas found out.

Does all this sound right to you?  It doesn’t to us.  We’ll see if the Attorney General’s Office agrees with us.

Gardner City Hall swept it under the rug on March 18th.  We had no choice because the body was lying lifeless on the ground.  Someone had to start doing CPR.  You only have 30 days to do something under the life-saving policies of the Open Meeting Law. Time was running out.

So Gravitas administered CPR by filing the Open Meeting Law violation – and stopped the clock from running out.

Gardner attacked Boone for political reasons – we can say this because there was no lawful reason for the City of Gardner to recall him from office as a Monty Tech School Committee member with two years remaining in his term. 

Is it pathetic and despicable what Gardner City Hall did?

They are lucky that Boone is sedate, reticent, and passive (a “nice guy”) – that’s for sure.  It’s not in the Citizens’ best interests for the City Government to stomp on the faces of its elected officials.

None of this was in the Citizens’ best interests. Isn’t that why we have a City Hall government?  To serve the best interests of the Citizens?

It should not be so easy to just sweep City Hall’s abuse of power under the City Hall rug when Government has unlawfully disparaged and humiliated a City Councillor/School Committee Member in the process.  It harms the councilor and makes a mockery of our municipal democracy.

Democracy?  Does all that sound like the workings of a democracy to you? 

When Kazinskas took it upon herself to sweep everything under the rug, behind your backs in some private City Hall office somewhere with the doors locked, where was the democracy?  Where was the vote? Where was this “Joint Convention”?

Where were they?  Sitting on their hands – doing nothing – as usual.

So, we acted.

Listen Now! A podcast on the latest Open Meeting Law Violation

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