North Adams Airport Commission Responds to Another Open Meeting Complaint

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Before the Airport Commission's regular meeting Tuesday, the commissioners responded to another Open Meeting Law complaint filed by Gerrit Blauvelt.
 
The commission voted to inform Blauvelt that, in summary, the city is still working toward compiling the lost meeting minutes he has already requested.
 
"These are the dates we were ordered to recreate, and we are in that process of recreating them," Administrative Officer Angie Ellison said. "It is my opinion that this seems to be redundant of that request. It seems to be looking for the same thing the finding asked us to recreate." 
 
Last year, through Blauvelt's original Open Meeting Law complaint, the city found that the Airport Commission was missing more than 30 years of minutes.
 
This prompted the city, working with the Attorney General's Office, to search for these minutes as well as recreate some of them using old news articles and engineering documents.
 
Still, without minutes, Blauvelt filed a fresh request in December. 
 
Among other concerns, Blauvelt's new request was for some of these discovered/recreated minutes that he initially was told did not exist.
 
Specifically, he was looking for minutes from 1995,1998-2003, and 2016 that he was never given after his initial complaint.
 
Ellison said some of these minutes have been found or recreated. These minutes have not been provided because Blauvelt has not paid the processing fee.
 
The state allows the assessment of "a reasonable fee for the production of a public record except those records that are freely available for public inspection. The reasonable fee shall not exceed the actual cost of reproducing the record."
 
The commission voted to send a written response to the Attorney General's Office and Blauvelt that, in summary, stated that the city has met Blauvelt's request and this new filing was duplicative. It stated that the city is continuing to rebuild the minutes, per the attorney general's request, and that they will be made available when available.
 
"I think it is confusing for me and my colleagues because these nested requests have been made and we are trying to meet them," Caplinger said. "You make the requests and then you submit more."
 
Blauvelt later responded during an open comment that there was some confusion about his request. He said he initially was looking for information on fees at the airport and such a broad search levied a processing cost close to $800. He said he attempted to bring his request to a more manageable scope but it was not possible. It was during this initial request that it was found that minutes were missing.
 
"I was told records did not exist. I appealed to the attorney general, and then I was told I was being charged for those records," he said. "… If the minutes existed why were they not provided at the start as it is being suggested?"
 
He said it was important not to mix the different complaints that now have a different context after some minutes have been found or recreated.
 
"I was told then they do not exist, and if you are quoting from that request that is a problem. To reference back and say I should have paid that fee with the earlier request when the minutes did not exist, that is a problem. You can't have it both ways. You can't say the records don't exist and give someone a ridiculous quote," he said. "And then when say I want to see what happens after you find the records and after you do that you find them say you should have paid that ridiculous fee. I don't know how you can do that." 
 
Once the commissioners approved the statement, they closed the special meeting and opened their regular meeting.

Tags: airport commission,   open meeting complaint,   

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MCLA to Hold Annual Educator Recognition Awards Event

NORTH ADAMS, Mass.—Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), in collaboration with the Berkshire County Superintendents' Roundtable, will hold its annual Educator Recognition Awards event on Thursday, May 26, 2022, from 4:30-6 p.m. in Murdock Hall Room 218 on MCLA's campus.  
 
This award was created to honor the region's exceptional educators. This year's awardees are being recognized for their outstanding contributions to education throughout the pandemic. 
 
The event is free and open to the public, and a virtual attendance option is available.  
 
 Those who would like to attend can register at https://forms.office.com/r/5KMZAQ7Lpe
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