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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

OPMA violation letter elicits silence

A letter outlining potential Open Public Record Act violations by City Council was delivered to the governing body Tuesday, and the document was received with a deafening silence from council members and Special Counsel Joe Alacqua.

The letter outlined violations on the part of council during a recent executive session regarding the appointment of a new city clerk, during which the council broke the letter of the OPMA law several times.

Council members Gino Melone and Annette Lartigue said it is apparent that the council needed to have a special workshop about executive session rules with Mr. Alacqua, in order to prevent further violations that make the council vulnerable to Superior Court-induced fines.

Councilman Jim Coston was absent from the meeting due to a family obligation, but was seemingly absolved from wrongdoing after neither Councilwoman Cordelia Staton or Council President Paul Pintella responded to parts of the letter noting their baseless accusations of malfeasance on the part of Mr. Coston.

Ms. Staton wished to bring Mr. Coston before an Ethics Board, and Mr. Coston planned a written apology to council after he provided a member of the public with executive session tapes of the discussions, according to reports.

But it turns out Mr. Coston was in fact innocent because the clerk decision had already been made, releasing him to provide the tapes to the public, despite legal advice council had received from Special Counsel Alacqua to the contrary.

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