WELLFLEET — The select board has released minutes from its June 27 executive session, at which the beginning of a board meltdown apparently occurred. The session came before the board’s reorganization early this summer. The minutes, however, are almost entirely redacted.
According to annotations made by town counsel, the redactions were based on an exemption to the state public records law, which allows certain personnel information to be kept from public view. The board voted to release the minutes during an Oct. 25 executive session after receiving multiple requests from residents to disclose the document, chair Barbara Carboni said.
But the redacted version, replete with blacked-out paragraphs, will leave those residents in the dark.
Executive sessions are exceptions to the state’s Open Meeting Law and are closed to the public. According to the state’s guide, public bodies are required to disclose executive session minutes once the issue discussed in the meeting is resolved. And if the subject of the session falls within exemptions to the public records law, the minutes do not have to be released at all.
The public records law states that personnel information “may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” and thus should not be disclosed.
The purpose of the June 27 executive session was “to discuss the discipline or dismissal of, or complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee staff member, or individual,” according to the meeting’s agenda.
What was discussed at the executive session remains unconfirmed, but in a letter then-chair Ryan Curley wrote to the board requesting that its reorganization be delayed until after fall town meeting, he referred to having “significant differences” with Town Administrator Rich Waldo.
At the board’s next public meeting on July 11, it was revealed that some members had requested a reorganization of the board, a change they alleged Curley had blocked. But the board did reorganize on July 18, making Carboni the chair.
During the meeting, John Wolf asked for the reorganization, saying it would help the town to retain Waldo.
The board met again on July 13. During the public comment period at that meeting, Fire Chief Richard Pauley said, “The town administrator has the majority support of the department’s staff and senior staff members.”
Despite a swift vote to reorganize on July 18, animus among board members remains in public view.
Carboni recessed an Oct. 17 meeting after Curley lashed out at Waldo over what he alleged was the improper hiring of a full-time deputy shellfish constable. Curley said that the board had not vetted the position, a claim that other board members did not confirm.
Curley then proposed a vote of no confidence in Carboni, who he said was trying to halt the discussion. No one on the board seconded his motion.
Carboni said that an unredacted version of the June 27 minutes, which could clarify the origins of the board’s turmoil, may never be released.
“There is not much we can do,” Wolf told the Independent. “I don’t like what appears to be lack of transparency, but those are the rules we have to play by when we are dealing with personnel information.”