Portland official defends councilors’ apparently illegal island meeting
Jonathan Piper discusses a controversial gathering of Portland city councilors on a small island in Casco Bay. Open meeting advocates say the meeting violated Maine's open meeting law because the city did not publicly announce the meeting before it occurred, as required by Maine law.
Portland to institute new policy on giving notice of meetings after apparent violation, Portland Press Herald, September 12, 2017
Fort Gorges inspection tour violated Maine's Freedom of Access law, Portland Press Herald, September 15, 2017
Jonathan Piper, a senior attorney with Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios, said the island tour was clearly a public proceeding under state law, and that Portland officials should have known. Piper’s firm represents the Portland Press Herald in court cases and decades ago prevailed in a dispute with Portland about the city’s failure to announce a public meeting, he said.
“It’s an absolute total violation of Maine open meeting law,” Piper said of the trip to Fort Gorges. “A public proceeding isn’t just where you sit down and deliberate and vote. … It’s where you gather information. It’s where you do your job as a city councilor.”
Piper said it doesn’t matter whether citizens would actually want to ride along and listen to the conversations, but that the public knows when meetings take place. “The point is you just give notice,” he said.