PCC does not represent this town
In case you haven't read this week's Sakonnet Times yet...
To the editor:
The PCC should practice what they preach.
In a letter last week, PCC, Inc. President Larry Fitzmorris blasted a stakeholder's meeting held to explore potential Island-wide opportunities for addressing wastewater. Leaving aside the factual errors — the most egregious of which was the implication that "principal design decisions" on any sewer system were being made outside of Portsmouth — Mr. Fitzmorris expressed concerns that the meeting was not "a public forum." It was, in fact, public; I know, because I was there, and so was Mr. Fitzmorris. You can read about the meeting on my blog at harddeadlines.com.
But do you know what genuinely isn't public? Meetings of the Portsmouth Concerned Citizens, Inc. In order to attend a meeting of the PCC, you have to join, and this requires, according to Mr. Fitzmorris, "You have to send me your application, and then the members have to vote on you." I know this because I tried to join in June, and I'm still waiting to hear the results of the secret ballot. (No, they haven't cashed my check.)
It is perfectly legal for a nonprofit corporation like the PCC to restrict membership and to hold private meetings. But I find it ironic that an entity whose corporate mission is "to provide a community association through which member-citizens can act collectively to promote the common good and social welfare of the Town of Portsmouth" routinely conducts the kind of secret meetings they constantly rail against.
If the PCC is not open to all the citizens of Portsmouth, then you do not truly speak for our town, Mr. Fitzmorris.
FYI: If issues of this sort are of interest to you, you might emjoy this event, happening tomorrow at RWU:
9th Annual Open Government Summit
Friday, August 03, 2007
School of Law Appellate Court Room 283
Ten Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI
Bristol, R.I. (July 3, 2007): The 9th Annual Open Government Summit will be held at the School of Law Appellate Court Room 283, Ten Metacom Avenue, Bristol, R.I., on Friday August 3, 2007, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is at 8:30 a.m. Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch will host the state-wide Open Government Summit. The Roger Williams University Law Alumni Association co-sponsors the event.
Special Assistant Attorney General Christy Hetherington, a 2002 graduate of the School of Law, will present on the Access to Public Records Act and Open Meetings Act. The Access to Public Records Act presentation will highlight how to determine whether a document is a public record and how to respond to a citizen's request. A 2006 - 2007 case law/legislative update will also be presented.
The Open Meetings Act presentation will discuss how to determine when the Open Meetings Act applies and when an executive session is appropriate. Other statutory requirements, such as posting notice, amending school committee and non-school committee agendas, and maintaining minutes will be discussed.
The Rhode Island Bar Association has approved the program for 3.5 Continuing Legal Education credits, including one ethics credit, available free of charge for attending the summit. The public is welcome to attend. To reserve seating, e-mail email@example.com or contact (401) 274-4400, Ext. 2101. Seating in the main lecture hall may be limited.