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.
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.
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: