Who's counting? Boston Globe probe raises doubts on public meeting quorums

Submitted by LDieringer on Wed, 08/28/2013 - 2:38pm

From Boston Globe staff reporter Todd Wallack via NEFAC: While writing a story recently about the Massachusetts state pharmacy board, I noticed something odd: Only half the board members showed up for a meeting last summer — too few for a quorum — but the board members went ahead with the meeting anyway and voted on one item after the next.

It turns out it was part of a much wider problem, raising questions about how frequently obscure boards comply with all the rules for public meetings throughout New England.

Usually, boards need a majority of members to show up for a meeting for any votes to count. But when I checked past Massachusetts pharmacy board minutes, I found at least two other cases where at least half the members were absent, but the rest of the members voted on items anyway.

Then it occurred to me if that if the problem existed with one licensing board operating under the state Department of Public Health, it might affect similar boards as well. So I decided to check the minutes.

Sure enough, after spending an hour flipping through a box full of documents at the DPH offices, I found six other boards had the same problem: The boards voted at least once on items even though they didn’t have enough members to hold a legal quorum.

Visit New England First Amendment Coalition for the rest.

New England First Amendment Coalition is a member of NFOIC. --eds.

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