Publisher’s Note: Purpose of my news story is to create awareness that any meeting summary needs to be accurate.  Doesn’t need to be a complete transcript, but at least needs to be factually correct.  And any group approving minutes including the School Committee needs to say NO if the minutes are wrong.  Problem will get fixed very fast in that case. Article has links to MA law and a comparison of Minutes of recent meeting vs. actual transcript. ——- We need to show our kids that TRUTH MATTERS.

Time for Transparency Gardner MA

Law on Meeting Minutes Pertaining to Gardner MA Meetings

Gardner Magazine makes an attempt to accurately transcribe what people say at City Council, School Committee, and other meetings as well as any time we quote local officials in any fashion.   We have noticed that certain meeting minutes, particularly those of the School Committee, are not always accurate, in some cases reflecting statements that a member never said.  This is a potential problem because the law states that “a public body shall create and maintain accurate minutes of all meetings…..a summary of the discussions on each subject, a list of documents and other exhibits used at the meeting.”  

As a specific example, we cite the meeting of March 14, 2022. We compared the Meeting Minutes with the actual Final Comments of the School Committee members and found the minutes to be completely inaccurate and not in compliance with State law. See the complete rundown right here.

Here is a pdf of the actual Massachusetts law, relating to Minutes of Meetings. CLICK HERE.  And here is a copy of the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law. We are hoping that corrective action will be taken so we don’t have to write a lengthy article comparing the minutes to the actual statements made in all the recent meetings. In addition, we are hoping that in the spirit of true transparency, that the School Committee packet be included in the public disclosure of the Agenda prior to the meeting, as state law does require them to be part of the later official minutes of the meeting, and the Gardner City Council has made a practice of making these materials available ahead of time. Having the materials in hand has been very helpful in understanding what the City Council is voting on. Because the packets are so inclusive and prepared in such a highly professional fashion, very often there is little discussion over a specific item. Not a problem if you have in hand what the City Council sees. In the case of the School Committee, references are often made at meetings to items in the packet which have not been similarly furnished in advance to the public.

Publisher’s note: This is a very simple problem to correct immediately and we urge the Gardner School Committee to do so. We also urge the Gardner School Committee to demand that meeting minutes be prepared accurately in accordance with the law. We have emailed Mayor Nicholson regarding the issue and are sure that he will take corrective action as transparency and accuracy has been a hallmark of his Administration.