For now, the public will still be able to address the selectmen though citizen’s input.
Discussing the idea of getting rid of the open mic at the start of each selectmen’s meeting, Acting Town Manager Bob Cutler proposed the idea in an effort to avoid an open meeting law violation.
While the public may address the selectmen, the board cannot engage or respond to comments.
“The area that concerns me the most is that you can have someone come in and start making accusations against the board or some other people who don’t have the ability to respond because if you get into a discussion of what is being raised at that time, it could lead to an open meeting law violation,” Cutler said.
If someone wanted to meet with the selectmen, they would be asked to email the selectmen’s office to get on the agenda. The proposal was done to allow the board to respond to those who address them rather than simply listening.
“This has happened when someone has come in and challenged someone on something and you can’t reply. I have no problem with it going though the office,” Selectman chairman Mark Sullivan said.
Sullivan was the only member of the board to support the idea with the other four preferring the to stay with citizen’s input.
“I was on the receiving end of (negative comments) not too long ago and you have to sit there and take it. That’s the bad side but it’s so hard to get people to participate, I think there’s a benefit for someone to come to a meeting,” Selectman Jim DeVellis said.
Selectman John Grey also backed keeping citizen’s input.
“Citizen’s input is a way to bring up a topic or grievances. It’s kind of raw but it’s a way for the public to meet the selectmen and not wait though a process,” Grey said.
The board agreed to keep the the open mic but stated it is the responsibility of the chairman to make sure the person speaking does not go on for too long and that the board does not start a discussion that would result in an open meeting violation.