Councilor Alleges Colleagues Broke Meeting Law
Richard Conti says Jeremy Denlea and Walter Thibodeau should not have coordinated to create a concept to improve parking enforcement in Attleboro.
Two city councilors and an Attleboro administrator say they have come up with a good solution to improve parking enforcement in Attleboro, but one councilor says the conclusion was reached in violation of Massachusetts' opening meeting law.
Councilors Jeremy Denlea and Walter Thibodeau had proposed a measure for council consideration that would have required 40 hours of training for parking enforcement officers. This was in response to residents' complaints about improperly issued tickets. Denlea announced at the City Council meeting on Tuesday that he and Thibodeau had reached a compromise with Barry LaCasse, Attleboro's director of budget and administration.
The compromise calls for LaCasse to hold weekly "training and review" sessions with the parking officers that would take at least 30 minutes.
"During this session, all disputed and voided parking tickets from the prior week will be reviewed and proper procedure will be explained to the parking enforcement officers by Mr. LaCasse so as to avoid any improper situations from reoccurring," a joint statement from Denlea, Thibodeau and LaCasse states (the statement is attached).
Following Denlea's reading of the statement on Tuesday, Councilor Richard Conti said that the compromise had been reached illegally because Denlea and Thibodeau sit on the council's Transportation & Traffic Committee, and. state law only allows the committee to meet in front of the public at sessions that have been noticed.
"I'm still smarting from the meeting at my patio," said Conti, referring to the incident last year when it was determined he, Councilor Mark Cooper and then-Councilor Cherie Felos had violated the law by meeting about a recall petition in private at Conti's home.
Denlea said his actions were not a violation of the law because he and Thibodeau did not meet on an issue of new business, since the proposal had not gone before the council for it to be assigned to a committee. Denlea said he did not know if the item would have been assigned to the traffic committee, and could have gone to the ordinances committee.
Council President Frank Cook told Conti, "You raise an interesting point." He said he would do research to determine if the councilor's allegation was accurate.