Town Newport Select Board Meeting Feb 4th 2016
At this meeting the topic was transparent government. In particular, The open Meeting law and the Public Records Act. This goes into great detail. Both the residents and the Select board were enlightened. The penalties for violations were discussed as well as the procedure for filing complaints. There are relevant documents below as well as the the complaint form and other information and links. This can and should be used as a reference to understand how the Selectman conduct themselves as well as how to request documents using the Public Records Act.
Response to Albert
In one section of this video, There was issue taken by Albert on the fact that I considered actions taken by Select Chair Steven Barrup as gross non compliance of Open Meeting Law and Freedom of information Act at the Nov 7th, 2015 Selectboard Meeting.
The discussion grew heated and Albert argued that my opinion “gross non compliance” was severe. He demanded that I make a statement on this. Steven Barrup also agreed that I should publish my opinion on this.
So on Nov 7th, 2015 I attended my very first Selectboard meeting in Newport Center VT. There was a civil engineer on the agenda to speak at the meeting. Ernest Choquette, myself, my wife Jayne and two or three other residents were in attendance.
We were clearly not included in participation of this meeting. The Selectboard and Denise Daigle were discussing water solutions quietly among themselves. We could not hear what was going on. We were most interested because of the recent increase of the water bill. I interjected and asked who the speaker was, he was not introduced to the residents (first violation). the mans name was Wayne Eliot and stopped immediately somewhat embarrassed and introduced himself. I then asked questions about some of what I saw drawn on the blackboard. Wayne began to explain and Steve interrupted him and told me. He can not talk to you now because it is costing you (the people taxpayers, 250 an hour to pay the engineer) 2nd violation, ” the right to be heard”. Later I asked Denise about the 250 an hour. Denise told me that Steve was only joking with the 250 per hour quote. I confronted Steve in a heated debate at the next Select board with 30 residents present. I asked over and over “why did you lie to me” He finally responded by saying “I know now that I should not have said that. I only said that because it makes engineers and lawyers feel good when you tell them they charge a lot of money”. I thought this odd but was satisfied with his response and respect him for being honest on this.
Shortly after Wayne Elliot finished speaking to the select board. He left the meeting. At this time supposedly we (residents) were permitted to speak. Ernest raised his hand to be heard. Steve Barrup in a loud, very loud voice yelled “ERNEST SHUT UP” Steve went on spewing out more angry words something about revisiting previous disagreement they have had in past. In my opinion, this was no less that bullying. (violation 3 right to be heard) I felt for Ernest who I barely knew previous to this meeting. I leaned over and whispered to Ernest ” I can fix this” I thought after “did I really say that?” How the hell am I going to fix this? Thus the inspiration to become active in the towns business. Keep in mind all I have stated was witnessed by other residents.
Recap…Since I have started to video tape the selectboard meetings for the record, Steve Barrup has not acted like that since. So I guess that got fixed . Steve Barrup now treats now treats Ernest with respect. That has been fixed.
Steve did publicly admit he should not have responded to me the way I explained above when I asked to question Wayne Elliot for details. This has been partially fixed.
Ok, for this item there remains a need for a cure to make it whole. That would be that the residents did not get a chance to hear Wayne Elliot speak of the details of our water system. At the Feb 4th, 2016 meeting, I took a minute and explained how we have heard a lot from the selectboard and Fred Barrow about the water system details and that they are well informed of course. I really wanted to hear from the experts on this. The select board paid thousands for the Assessment report the Eliot Aldridge prepared for the town on the water system. I suggested to the select board to have Wayne Elliot back so we could get some expert opinion on the matter that Steve Barrup denied us on the Nov 7th meeting..After I asked Steve ignored me and went on to another issue.
This would be the 4th Violation “RIGHT TO KNOW” So Albert, this is what I consider gross non Compliance of Open Meeting law and Freedom of Information Act. You can verify these details from the many residents who witnessed the events.
I hope this helps explain my reason for me considering this a GROSS non compliance. So four violations in one meeting? I am sure there are more if I thought about it and looked further in the the laws. So on the positive side as aforementioned it has improved
The People, in delegating authority do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.