Records Withheld by Haney

Public Records Request Not Fulfilled

by Irene Wrenner

April 25, 2021

In addition to the public records relinquished by Elaine Haney, the Retorter has evidence of a third March 25th mid-meeting electronic conversation whose records she has withheld, in an apparent violation of the public records law, 1 V.S.A. § 315 - § 320.

 

Besides texting with fellow SB members Pat Murray and Vince Franco, Haney conversed with residents in a private Village Facebook group. Scott Moore, treasurer of the pro-merger #oneEssex PAC, was among those who chatted with Haney, while they both attended the online SB meeting.

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Haney continued her conversation after the meeting on the same Facebook thread, in a similar vein.

Under what conditions are records considered public?  1 V.S.A. § 316 is the statute.  Essentially anything put in writing, to or from an elected official about their government-related work, is required for disclosure in response to a public records request.

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All of these rules were in force that night:

 

Essex Selectboard's Rules and Regulations for Orderly Conduct of Business:

- Side conversations shall not be allowed at the table or from the audience.

- Cell phones or other electronic, handheld devices shall only be used during meetings for purposes related to the meeting.

Town of Essex Communication Policy

- Any communication – be it email, telephone, in person, on social media, or otherwise – should be considered public unless subject to a statutorily listed and invoked exemption to the public records law.

Selectboard Computer Use Policy

- During board meetings ... cell phones or other electronic, hand-held devices, shall only be used for purposes related to the meetings.

The next day, she posted about her opponents on the merger issue: