Letter: Open Meetings Act provides means to deal with disruptions

Posted 12/23/21

To the editor:I must commend the BWRSC for not allowing a meeting to take place with audience members violating the mask mandate set forth by the RIDOH in order to protect all citizens from being …

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Letter: Open Meetings Act provides means to deal with disruptions

Posted

To the editor:

I must commend the BWRSC for not allowing a meeting to take place with audience members violating the mask mandate set forth by the RIDOH in order to protect all citizens from being infected by the Corona virus’ various strains. However, I continue to be frustrated by the committee’s inability to “deal with” the rogue elements of our community with the laws established to protect communities from this very type of occurrence.

It’s concerning that neither the committee’s legal counsel, nor the town’s public safety officers — both at the meeting — were cognizant of the Rhode Island’s Open Meeting Act that addresses the circumstance that took place at the Dec. 13, 2021 School Committee meeting.

The Open Meetings Act, and specifically 42-46-5 D, allows for “the removal of any person who willfully disrupts a meeting to the extent that orderly conduct of the meeting is seriously compromised” which was clearly the case at the 12/13 meeting. The police claiming in the Bristol Times that the two individuals were not “disorderly” may be true, but that is not what the law addresses. The two individuals did prevent an “orderly conduct of the meeting” and were in violation of a state masking mandate on top of that. Either is enough to have had them removed. Let us hope that the BPD has conducted a refresher course on Rhode Island’s Open Meeting Act and invited the school committee legal Counsel to attend.

Going forward, the chair should review the Open Meetings Act as well as consult in advance with the BPD on the measures available to be taken to prevent what happened on Dec. 13 from reoccurring.

Marc Furtado
2 Sunset Court
Warren

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.