Right to Know, Mason Style

At the November 24, 2015 Mason NH selectman’s meeting, Townsend Rd. Mason resident Bob Young appeared before the board and cordially invited the selectmen to post their meeting agendas on the web. To paraphrase his comments: he is interested in town affairs, but not knowing what is about to be discussed and having minutes appear out of the blue at some later date is not his prior experience.

The selectmen were non-committal. Selectman Moser stated that “putting up an agenda may inhibit discussion of something that may come up”. The selectmen indicated that the agenda can change up to and including the day of their meeting or even at the meeting itself.

Seat of the pants organization?

In a related issue, resident Wolfgang Millbrandt queried the status of the September 22 selectmen’s minutes. As of November 24, those minutes had still not appeared on the web. In a flurry of page flipping through a binder that apparently contains all the selectmen’s minutes, newly appointed administrative assistant Kathleen Wile found them. A scanned version will be posted on the web ASAP (update, see here)!

While all of this laggardly posting may be blamed on the town’s web administrator, that is actually not fair. Tight fisted control of web content including minutes, notes and relay of information falling through the cracks at the “buck stops here” location is probably to blame.

We ourselves have expressed frustration at the inconsistency of the selectmen posting meeting notices on a physical bulletin board that almost no one reads but then not on the web calendar. If one assumed that “the web” is a timely source of information from the town, one would be sorely wrong.

Our suggestion that the NH Right to Know organization propose an additional statute to clarify that “if a town uses a web presence to convey information it ought to do so consistently” was warmly received. This might be an extension of their current proposals.

And no Mason right to know rant would be complete without mentioning the Mason School Board’s annoying habit of posting “approved minutes” two months after the original meeting! If you drive to the office to read the draft minutes, they probably do meet the letter of the law.

The school board does does however post agendas. But one would be hard pressed to find a specific mention of the appointing of next year’s superintendent on one.

1 comment for “Right to Know, Mason Style

  1. cloudnavigator
    November 26, 2015 at 10:34

    How obnoxious to have a BOS, boards and committees hiding information from the residents of Mason. This is really a bad, and possibly illegal, practice that needs to be immediately corrected. In Rindge, the schedules, meeting agendas and minutes from the BOS and all town boards and committees are posted on the town website. Minutes are usually posted shortly after the meetings are actually held. I recall that there is a requirement that such minutes be posted within a certain number of hours…not weeks or months after the meeting is held. I can’t believe the residents of Mason put up with such shenanigans from their elected officials, boards and committees.

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