Sent: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 2:51 PM
Subject: RE: Opinion Requested
I have received your email, and I understand that there is significant interest in certain issues involving the Town of Hopkinton. I recall, too, speaking with a member of the Town Board whom you identified as Ms. Pullano concerning the issue that both of you raised.
In short, the issue involves the propriety of situations in which you, as Supervisor, meet, for example, with residents or others interested in certain Town matters without the knowledge or presence of other members of the Town Board. As I advised during the event in which Ms. Pullano described her concerns, the Open Meetings Law does not apply unless and until a quorum, a majority of the total membership of the Town Board, convenes to conduct Town business as a body. That being so, the Open Meetings Law does not apply when you meet with others and without the presence of two or more other members of the Board.
From my perspective, it is not unusual for the chief executive or chief electoral officer of a municipality to meet, perhaps alone, with others to discuss issues concerning the municipality. Similarly, it is a not unusual for a member of a town board to meet with or discuss issues involving town government, alone, with constituents or others. In many of those situations, other members of a town board are neither aware of nor informed of those events. On a daily basis, it is likely that a town supervisor or a member of a town board, generally without the knowledge of other board members, may speak on the phone or engage in email communications with residents and those who conduct or wish to conduct business in a town. Again, if there is no quorum of the board participating, the Open Meetings Law simply does not apply.
It was suggested to Board Member Pullano that she might consider the preparation of a resolution in an effort to create a policy that results in disclosure of information regarding your meetings with others. To be fair, if she chooses to do so, with the approval of a majority of the board, a policy might be adopted whereby you, as Supervisor, and every Board member maintain a calendar or diary indicating events in which a member meets with members of the public or other town officials. By so doing, each member would have the ability to know more of each other's town government‐related activities.
I hope that I have been of assistance.