The ongoing outrage that is the Essex Regional Retirement Board continues. According to Salem News reporter Chris Cassidy, the board plans to increase its spending on legal fees by $150,000 in 2010. Why? To fight media requests for public records.
Blaming the press for the spending increase, chief operating officer Lilli Gilligan is quoted as saying, “It’s all because of the media attention this office has gotten in the past year.”
But as Cassidy observes, much of the board’s energy and money is wasted on trying to come up with excuses not to release documents that are clearly public. For instance, Cassidy writes:
When The Salem News in 2007 requested access to the two most recent years of the board’s meeting minutes — documents that cities and towns routinely post on their Web sites — the board … enlisted its lawyers.
A Boston law firm responded 18 days later, advising it was “reviewing the meeting minutes requested to determine which portions of the minutes might be exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Open Meeting Law and the Public Records Law.”
The minutes arrived two days later — nearly three weeks after the initial request was made.
For background on the Essex board, see these earlier posts.