Attorney General Finds Methuen City Council Subcommittee Violated the Open Meeting Law ~ Will Take No Action

Aug. 17, 2021

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has ruled that a Subcommittee of the Methuen City Council has violated the open meeting law.

In a letter sent to councilors, the AG’s office said that they will impose no penalty on the council members involved because Councilor DiZoglio – the head of the IT (internet and technology) sub-committee – contacted the AG after the meeting and mitigated the secrecy of that meeting by discussing the matter in public at the next meeting, and created minutes (a summary record) for the meeting. Those minutes were then released to the public.

A complaint was filed by Methuen Councilor James McCarty back in February, alleging that the City Council’s IT subcommittee had violated the open meeting law. The AG had initially found that there would be no cause for action against councilors involved, but McCarty filed a second complaint challenging the AG’s ruling and asking for further review of the matter.

“Following our review, we find that although the IT Subcommittee violated the Open Meeting Law by deliberating outside of a posted meeting on December 1 (2020), the IT Subcommittee adequately remedied the violation during its meeting on December 9, before this complaint was filed.”

“In reaching this determination we reviewed the original complaint, the IT Subcommittee’s response to the complaint, the complaint filed with our office requesting further review, and the minutes of the IT Subcommittee’s December 1, and December 9 meeting. We also spoke by phone with the Chair of the IT Subcommittee on December 3, after the Chair contacted our office to discuss the Open Meeting Law compliance concerns arising from the December 1 meeting.”

“For the reasons stated above we find that the IT Subcommittee violated the Open Meeting Law when it deliberated outside of a posted meeting but that it cured the violation during its meeting on December 9. Therefore, we order no further remedial action. We now consider the complaint addressed by this determination to be resolved.”

Councilor DiZoglio said that it was unfortunate that (then) Council Chairman McCarty didn’t know what was going on when he filed his complaints.

“Instead of helping me solve the problem he created an additional problem by not supporting his fellow councilors,” councilor DiZoglio said of McCarty.

“We remediated the situation before a complaint even came out, and it turned into another complaint by McCarty, but today the AG said that Nick Dizoglio did everything right. In fact, I did more than enough to rectify the situation. The AG is going to use my situation as an example of the right thing to do when something like this happens. We accounted for minutes; everything was done absolutely correctly, better than what the open meeting law requires. And she rectified it four months ago. But, Jimmy wanted to pursue another complaint to challenge her ruling and again, she said we did the right thing.”