Three’s company, but it’s also a quorum if it includes three members of a five-member elected board.
In separate interviews, three Mashpee Selectmen—Michael R. Richardson, Wayne E. Taylor, and Carol A. Sherman—recently discussed how they plan to avoid violating Massachusetts Open Meeting Laws during the production and filming of their upcoming local public access television show.
The show, titled “There’s Something About Mashpee,” is currently being filmed around town, but there have been no dates announced for its debut on Mashpee TV channel 99. A promotional video of the show features each of the three selectmen—often as a pair, but never a threesome—interviewing local luminaries and town department heads, as well as attending town events.
According to Massachusetts Attorney Martha M. Coakley’s online Open Meeting Law Guide, the three selectmen must not, as a group representing a quorum, deliberate or discuss any town matters that would be within the board’s jurisdiction. If a formal complaint were to be filed, and violations of the Open Meeting Law were validated, the Attorney General could impose a fine of up to $1,000 for each violation.
“This show was my idea, intended to be more of a Mashpee version of ‘Chronicle.’ We are not talking about town issues, but focusing on more human interest stories,” Mr. Richardson said.
To date, Mr. Richardson said that there have already been interviews conducted with Mashpee Police Chief Rodney C. Collins, Fire Chief Thomas C. Rullo, Recreation Director Mark K. Bradbury, and Department of Public Works Director Catherine E. Laurent.
Mr. Taylor said that the three selectmen are committed to making the show non-political in the subjects it features, and that one covers for another when there is a schedule conflict.
“We would never have all three of us on there together at the same time, that would be a recipe for disaster,” Mr. Taylor said, noting that there is no script or pre-show conference between the three selectmen.
Ms. Sherman referred to the show as an informational piece to show town residents what is happening within town departments and “who does what” in town.
“It’s a shame that people would think we would be working in violation of the Open Meeting Law. We are very cognizant of the rules. I don’t even know why that would have been brought up as an issue,” she said.
Town Clerk Deborah F. Dami confirmed that she has been made aware that the three selectmen are participating in the community television project.
“I’ve been assured that there will only be two selectmen involved in the planning, production, and filming of show at any one given time, and I will be monitoring the activity,” she said.