District No. 3 Prudential Committee discusses open meeting law complaints

Mar 28, 2018

The Dartmouth Fire District No. 3 Prudential Committee will revote on a contract for its treasurer following an open meeting law complaint alleging the original vote was improper.

It was one of two open meeting law complaints addressed at the board's March 27 meeting. Member Mike Riccardo alleged that board chairman Terrance Pimental intentionally violated open meeting laws regarding a vote on the treasure’s contract when it was not scheduled.

The issue arose during the board’s March 5 meeting, when district Clerk/Treasurer Joan Brennan told the board she would be resigning as the clerk but staying on as the treasurer.

She then asked the board to vote on a three-year contract for the treasurer position, which was not presented at the meeting, according to Riccardo.

In another complaint, Riccardo alleged Pimental violated the open meeting law when he terminated attorney Anthony Savastano without board approval. Savastano was hired to offer legal aid in regard to the clerk and treasurer positions.

District attorney John Markey addressed the issues at the meeting, and advised the board to reschedule a vote on the treasurer’s contract so it meets open meeting law standards.

Markey said that while he believes the board was acting in good faith with the vote, the law states if there is anything of interest to the public the topic must be postponed for discussion.

The board agreed and moved to revote on the subject at its next meeting on April 10.

Markey also advised the board to watch the attorney general’s videos on open meeting laws and was going to give board members a copy of the law, but Riccard noted they had already received and signed one saying they had read it.

Regarding the termination of Savastano, Markey said it was more of a technical and courtesy matter, rather than an open meeting violation.

Riccardo is pleased at how the board handled the complaints and will be preparing for the contract discussion for their next meeting.

“It’s just you know a mistake and we’re just trying to correct it,” Pimental said about the issue.