04 April 2008

KingCast covers Nashua Telegraph v. Nashua Right-to-Know hearing as Bolton Bellows at Brindley "Don't ever call me again!"

Okay my prediction is that the Telegraph will prevail on the Statute by a nose. More on this later but the hearing was intense but highly-principled, until we were filing out of court and Adermanic President Bolton, standing right next to me, turned to Reporter Michael Brindley and positively bellowed
"Don't ever call me again... you can't tell the Truth."

I've never had a problem with President Bolton, whom I believe was there when Mayor Streeter presented me the Mayoral Commendation for Right-to-Know/First Amendment. Similarly, I have never known Reporter Brindley to do anything but tell the Truth, I like him for that. So anyway, here's the background from the Telegraph. Today my erstwhile Right-to-Know sidekick Alderman Teeboom and I looked on, as did School Board members Dennis Hogan and Tom Vaughan, all of us cold cold chillin' at the Spot.

The Aldermanic and School Boards held a joint retreat at the Crowne Plaza to stave off a strike. During that session the Aldermanic Board met behind closed doors and by their contention strategized and then a tentative CBA was reached. Here's the arguments with the City , through Tom Claussen going first because it bears the burden of proving compliance with RSA 91-A:

"Despite broad scope certain functions still need to be carried out in private, like atty client privilege and strategy or negotiations w/r/t Collective Bargaining. More akin to strategy because "the facilitator/mediator was not in the room so it was clearly not a negotiation because the other party wasn’t there....Can’t open it up because if the union knows the strategy then there goes the whole thing….”

No doubt that if the Board did this themselves it would be legal…. And there is no limitation on who can be involved in strategy sessions. To suggest that there can’t be any communication between the two is unworkable."

Telegraph:

“The Board of Alderman doesn’t have any role in strategy, their job is to say we approve the cost items or no we don’t”

Judge Groff: So they couldn’t meet with the board at all?

A: Our position is that they could have consulted individually, and that kind of thing happens all the time…. But when it meets as a quorum they have no control over negotiating. Counsel for city Jamie McNamee was focusing on “there is public body responsible for bargaining/negotitating, it is the school board and they can do that privately. But the board of Aldermen has no role at all in Collective bargaining…. All they hold is the purse strings. We need to understand that when they meet they are meeting to address something within their purview or jurisdiction…..

Judge Groff: You would think it would be appropriate for a couple of board members to discuss it?

A: That’s at least one appropriate thing to do....McNamee (in his memorandum) was trying to tell them “Don’t have a quorum but they had 12 of 15 members there….”

Judge Groff: And you would say its not a strategy session because the board has no role in school board strategy…..”

A: The email from Mr. Teeboom and everything we have show that Srategy wasn’t what was going on there.....It was expedient…. The Mayor acknowledged that they probably violated the Right-to-Know law…. And they let the chips fall.

In asking for Attorney fees he said the Attorney Gagliuso told them and the Mayor admitted afterward that they probably violated Right-to-Know. "If there was ever a case where the public body knew or should have known requirement it has been met."

In rebuttal, Claussen went back to division of strategy v. negotiations and said "assessing the financial impact, whether you can deal with it and to suggest that the board of Alderman plays no role in this is ludicrous. Let’s not take form over substance. How is doing it through two individual proxies from the board any better... Count noses, go out and have a secret sidebar and how is that any better?"

Telegraph: Difference is, that public bodies can’t act unless there is quorum present and that is the difference.

KingCast rules: Statutorily the Telegraph is correct, wins by a nose. KingCast makes no prediction on the issue of Attorney Fees. I know, I punked out =^.)

Give me a break, though.... I'm off to Junior Tate's wake :(

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