Early in December Parks Commissioner Anne Marie Rogers forced Parks Director Mindy Milos-Dale to allow her to log on to the Director’s computer and read and copy her emails..
At the Dec. 11 2013 Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Commissioner Rogers accused Commission members Mackley, Peruzzi, Tomboulian and Barkham of being a “cabal of four people who work in secret to develop policies”. She also claimed that Parks and Recreation Director Mindy Milos-Dale illegally directs this quorum. In her 6 minute presentation (see below) she alleged that the following examples of the Directors emails indicated Open Meeting Act Violations:
- “in one instance Ms. Milos Dale asks the four offending Commissioners which of them will be attending a Planning Commission meeting”
- “in another they discuss parks rezoning”
- “in another they are prepping for a BOT meeting”
- “in another the cider mill vendor is discussed”
- “it appears these members script for one another ideas and statements to be made at PRC meetings as well as Board of Trustee meetings and Planning Commission meetings”
Webster’s defines “cabal” as “a small group of secret plotters, as against a government or person in authority.”
The Open Meetings Act requires that:
- All decisions of a public body shall be made at a meeting open to the public.
- All deliberations of a public body constituting a quorum of its members shall take place at a meeting open to the public except as provided in this section and sections 7 and 8. (note: Sections 7 & 8 do not apply to the PRC.)
- Also, The act defines a decision as a determination, action or disposition… on which a vote by members of a public body is required and by which a public body effectuates or formulates public policy.
Let’s take a layman’s look at each of Rogers’ accusations with the OMA language in mind:
The OMA does not forbid the planning of attendance at meetings. It is a good idea for the Director to help the Commissioners avoid having a quorum at a meeting of another body where PRC matters would be discussed.
The PRC had decided that it wanted the 7 park properties rezoned and had applied to the Board of Trustees for a decision. The PRC was working through the process of obtaining an approval. There was nothing to deliberate or decide except how to get it done by making appeals and presentations to the Board. There was no formulation of public policy.
- The PRC’s business before the Board of Trustees was about three topics: 1. the rezoning (see above); 2. the site plan for the Orion Rd. Parking Lot; 3. the Supervisor’s spending of Parks funds without authorization. in each of these The Parks Commission was participating in Board of Trustees deliberations. They were not deliberating or deciding Parks business. No vote by the PRC was required for them to discuss these with the Board.
- The PRC is a tenant in the Paint Creek Cider Mill building and are subject to the decisions made by their landlord, the Board of Trustees. The PRC has no authority over any of the other tenants in the building. Any communication about other tenants could not be deliberations or decisions regarding Parks business. No vote by the PRC was required.
- As discussed above the PRC members’ preparations for presentations and statements at meetings of other public bodies is not deliberation about or decision making of PRC business.
In my layman’s opinion each of these five accusations of Open Meetings Act Violations is false.
If, after a day of searching the Park Director’s emails, this is all she has to offer I think her use of the pejoratives “cabal”, “illegal”, “inappropriately”, “secret”, “unethically”, “devious”, “poisonous”, “unscrupulous” is unwarranted. It is Commissioner Rogers statements that are inappropriate, devious, and poisonous.