City Violates Public Records Law Refusing Methuen Superior Officers’ Public Records Requests

By: Tom Duggan – August 15, 2018

The attorney for the Methuen Superior officers union has requested public information from the city regarding salaries and contracts for other city departments to compare the salaries of superior officers’ and their proposed raises and spending.

According to a letter from Attorney Gary Nolan who represents the union, a public records request letter was sent on July 23rd and the city has refused to comply.

According to the state’s new public records law (MGL CH 66) the “A custodian of a public record shall, within ten days following receipt of a request for inspection or copy of a public record, comply with such request.”

Agencies or municipalities that are found to have violated the state’s public records law by a Massachusetts court can be fined not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000.

To date, the city has refused to comply with the state’s public records law and has not turned over the information requested by the union.

The union is seeking record of correspondence between the ayors office and other officials relating to the proposed Memorandum of Understanding recently negotiated, salaries and contracts from the school department, salaries and contracts from the fire department, the department budgets of several departments, patrolmen’s salaries, teachers union contract and other public documents.

The Valley Patriot has obtained a copy of the letter sent on July 23, 2018.

1. All non-privileged correspondence between the mayor’s office (mayor and designees) and the city council (electronic or written), both individually and collectively, relative to the issue of the Supervisor’s wage calculation under both the existing CBA as well as the proposed compromise MOU.

2  Copy of the complete budget breakdown for the Fire Department for FY2019 and FY20, including the total compensation for each fire officer, and including the total percentage increase (i.e. year to year percentage increase for total compensation, and not just % increase of the COLA) for each year of the current Fire Dept. CBAs (we are requesting a breakdown in the form similar to the form used as Attachment A of the Police Supervisor MOU, and are looking to determine the same information with respect to the fire employees – including base plus additional compensation, and the total compensation for each officer/supervisor, and including the total percentage increase over each successive year of the current Fire CBAs.
-Same information is requested for the police patrolmen (current CBA);
-Same information is requested for the teachers’ union (current CBA);
-same information for all other bargaining units which had CBA’s approved for the same duration as the current Police Supervisor’s CBA.
3.  Any and all bargaining history, notes, or other documents reflecting the City’s negotiation, agreement, and subsequent council approval of the current police supervisors’ CBA.
4.  Any and all documents, notes, minutes, or otherwise reflecting the funding, pre-funding, or discussion of same, of the first year of the current police supervisors CBA, the current Teachers CBA, the Current fire CBA, and the current police patrolmen’s CBA.
5.  Did the School department, or anyone on its behalf, purchase new vehicles in the past year?  If so, please describe what was purchased, when purchased and the entire costs associated with the purchases, and provide all documents reflecting that purchase, including school department budget documents reflecting the same.
In addition to the above, the Union also requests the following public records from the Methuen School Department:
-Names and total compensation and hire dates for all new employee hires from July 1st 2017 through June 30th 2018
-All records of any transfer of funds from all Methuen Public Schools financial accounts from January 1st 2018 through June 30th 2018.
-Purchases of all equipment and supplies from January 1st 2018 through June 30th 2018.
-All new contracts granted to any outside of the school department private vendors or agents for services rendered.
Gary G. Nolan, Esq.
Nolan | Perroni, P.C.