Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cell Tower Committee Admits MD Open Meetings Act Violation, PG Parents Can Finally Track 60 Cell Tower Plan

Cell Tower at Daly Elementary School, Germantown, MD
Parents in multiple Maryland counties, including Montgomery County, are having a hard time tracking the rapid construction of cell towers on public school playgrounds.

In Prince George's and Montgomery Counties, cell tower applications must go through a Tower Committee.  Tower Committees are public bodies and must abide by the requirements of the Maryland Open Meetings Act.  But, in Prince George's County the Tower Committee was not following the Open Meetings Act, making it impossible for parents to track when their local school playground was to be the site of one of the 60 cell tower compounds coming to their schools.

A complaint was filed on September 17th with the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board regarding the failure of the Prince George's Tower Committee to follow the Open Meetings Act.
This week the Prince George's Tower Committee filed their response to the complaint.

In their complaint they acknowledge numerous failings of their committee process including the fact that they have not been providing the public with Minutes of their meetings.

As a result of the Open Meetings Act Complaint that was filed:
  • The Tower Committee has now changed it's webpage to show meeting dates, time and location.  
  • The Tower Committee will now be posting notices of upcoming meetings. 
  • The Tower Committee has now made the location of their monthly meetings public so that the public can attend. 
  • The Tower Committee will now be making audio recordings of their meetings available to the public as the meeting minutes.
Here is the full text of the Tower Committee's response.  In the coming weeks the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board will review the complaint and the response and issue a formal Opinion.
In the meantime, the Tower Committee has committed to following the Open Meetings Act going forward.  This will make the construction of the 60 cell tower compounds on Prince George's public school playgrounds easier to track.



Original Complaint as filed September 17, 2014.

7 comments:

  1. Cell Tower Committee thought they could get away with violating the Maryland Open Meetings Act. Committee got caught.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Craig O'DonnellNovember 3, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    Using an agenda for both public notice of a meeting and the minutes is quite an efficient concept. Unfortunately, looking at the agenda, it does not contain even the minimum information that the Open Meetings Act requires of minutes. Way to go, JS.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Craig,
      Please note that before this complaint was filed Agendas for this committee weren't even available to the public.

      Delete
  3. Janis, Please note that agendas aren't required under the Maryland Open Meetings Act. Committee providing agendas sets a good example for all public bodies, state & local.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right. The complaint was not about Agendas.

      There weren't any agendas, minutes, meeting locations. Zip. Nada. Nothing. There wasn't anything that was required by the Open Meetings Act, hence a complaint was filed.

      The Tower Committee is trying to use unseen Agendas now as Minutes. That's their ruse with the Open Meetings Compliance Board. The public didn't have access to anything. This committee wasn't setting a good example of anything except how to completely hide the actions of a public body.

      Delete
  4. • Agenda is the schedule of a meeting and tells the sequence of events during the meeting to let the guests prepare in advance.

    • Minutes refers to the official record of the proceedings of a formal meeting. Minutes are important to remind what happened during a meeting on a future date if people forget.

    Committee can't substitute agenda for minutes under the Open Meetings Act. Future agendas under the Act or not will benefit many.

    ReplyDelete
  5. 9OMCB171 was issued on 03NOV14 regarding Anne Arundel County Board of Education
    (Janis Sartucci & Colin Murphy, Complainants)
    o Applicability - Administrative Function Exclusion -
    Outside Exclusion, discussion of: Budget deliberations;

    o Applicability - Quasi-Legislative Function -
    Budget deliberations;

    o Compliance Board - Opinions -
    Insufficient information about function performed: both possibilities addressed.

    ReplyDelete

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