Open Meeting laws do not apply to the “general court” – i.e. “the legislature” – worth remembering in Budget Season

The legislature's refusal to apply the Open Meeting laws to its own activities is prima facie evidence of corruption, richly evidenced by the convictions of the last three Speakers of the Massachusetts House: criminals all. - promoted by Bob_Neer
Ever wonder how the legislature can “get away with” making almost all its decisions behind closed doors, public excluded, no record made or published – check this out:

“Public body”, a multiple-member board, commission, committee or subcommittee within the executive or legislative branch or within any county, district, city, region or town, however created, elected, appointed or otherwise constituted, established to serve a public purpose; provided, however, that the governing board of a local housing, redevelopment or other similar authority shall be deemed a local public body; provided, further, that the governing board or body of any other authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose in the commonwealth or any part thereof shall be deemed a state public body; provided, further, that “public body” shall not include the general court or the committees or recess commissions thereof, bodies of the judicial branch or bodies appointed by a constitutional officer solely for the purpose of advising a constitutional officer and shall not include the board of bank incorporation or the policyholders protective board; and provided further, that a subcommittee shall include any multiple-member body created to advise or make recommendations to a public body. (Highlighting added)

Copyright © 2011 The General Court, All Rights Reserved
Who will fight to return democracy, open debate and public deliberations to the Great and General Court – also known as “the legislature”?  Surely not paid lobbyists, who must ever be careful not to give offense because what they are paid to do is get a bigger piece of pie for the interests they serve.  While some of these interests are very deserving, like housing the homeless, or youth jobs, without reclaiming democracy and open debate and deliberation on the record where it can be seen, the situation we have today where 22 billion or so is available to be in the budget, and 26 billion is deferred (and more is spent on film making than indigent defense!) will continue.
Who is left free to speak out, because they are not paid, are not running for office, and serve only their consciences?  Why, the Occupy movement – locally, Occupy Boston, Occupy the Hood, Occupy JB, Occupy the Barrio, Occupy Somerville, Occupy Arlington…and more.  And I freely admit that there are men and women of clear conscience in the legislature who year after year introduce legislation that seeks to include the “general court’ within the Open Meeting law, and who vote their conscience.  However, the reality that there are  60 legislators who voted against casinos when DiMasi (who opposed casinos) was speaker who suddenly voted for casinos when Deleo (who favors casinos) became gives me real cause for concern.
I love the fact that Occupy Boston is willing to call out the legislature and Beacon Hill for its cowardice in maintaining infrastructure, and its shadowy actions in dumping the Big Dig debt on the MBTA.  Tomorrow is the last day Occupy Boston will spend camped out on the State House Steps, about 20 people have slept on those granite steps every night since April 4th.  Anyway, if you want to show support, or ask questions, tomorrow’s your last day to do it.  And while Occupy is not perfect, nothing is perfect, and I am glad to see the passion for cleaning up government, fighting for income equality, and putting infrastructure and social justice ahead of personal gain or personal advancement.  No “coat holders” here.

Recommended by dave-from-hvad, kosta.


4 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Hi Amber - off-topic, but wondering what you think

    …about this budget amendment reducing CPCS private counsel bills by any attorney’s fees collected. A problem?

    Amendment #724

    To generate revenue by crediting attorneys fees ordered by the Trial Court

    Mr. Winslow of Norfolk moves to amend the bill by adding at the end thereof the following section:-

    “SECTION. Section 2A of chapter 211D of the General Laws, as most recently amended by section 112 of chapter 68 of the acts of 2011, is hereby further amended by inserting after subsection (g), the following new subsection:—

    (g ½) When a legal counsel fee is assessed under this chapter to a person who is represented by a member of the private counsel division, the legal counsel fee shall be deducted from the private counsel bill submitted to the committee. The attorney member of the private counsel division who has had a legal counsel fee deducted from a bill submitted to the committee shall be responsible for collecting the fee. Attorney members of the private counsel division and public defender division shall not accept any compensation or consideration for assigned representation, except legal counsel fees as permitted by this subsection.”

  2. If that is true - and I am not reading the budget amendment or "involved" with Bar Advocate issues any more

    If true, this is simply one more bad idea and yet more evidence of disrespect towards the court-appointed bar. Court appointed attorneys have no collection mechanism, cannot withdraw if a client doesn’t pay their fee (which today goes into the general fund) are bound by the attorney/client privilege, and already have a hard enough time earning the trust of a client who did not choose the attorney assigned to him or her. As a former judge, Dan Winslow should know better. Anyway, whatever is said will be said out of the public’s ear, just as everything happens in secret and behind closed doors in the legislature during budget season, and most of the rest of the time as well.

  3. Interesting point Amber and another good point from Bob...

    now go and vote for the same democrats that you have voted in from the last election. What’s that saying about “doing the same thing but expecting different results…”?

    And I love the support for Kennedy for Congress. Most admit he has “no message” but that doesn’t stop people from supporting him. His name is Kennedy, that’s enough. And the awful metric used against Republicans of raising money (so dirty, so beholding…), well Kennedy is raising lots and guess what, “it’s a wonderful thing!”

    With this kind of mentality Amber, get used to what you have, it won’t change!

  4. Well JohnD, I've said we shouldn't be afraid of primaries.

    However, there are also the policy differences to consider. In most cases I’ll take the hackish Democrat over the completely ethical Republican.

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Tue 25 Apr 12:55 AM