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OM 14-09 Gorman v. Central Coventry Fire District, Board of Directors Fay v. Central Coventry Fire District, Board of Directors

Since both complaints were submitted against the Central Coventry Fire District Board of Directors ("Board"), ("CCFD"), or ("Fire District"), and since both complaints contained similar allegations, this Department addressed both complaints in a single finding. Our investigation began by addressing the Board's argument that they are not a public entity, therefore, not subject to the OMA. Since the Board provided no factual or legal support for this argument, and since this argument conflicted with Emergency Hiring Counsel v. Solas, 774 A.2d 820 (R.I. 2001), this Department rejected the Board's argument that it is not a "public body." Next, this Department addressed Mr. Gorman's eight (8) allegations and Mr. Fay's nine (9) allegations and found that the CCFD violated the OMA: 1) when it failed to timely post meeting minutes on the Secretary of State's website, 2) when the Board failed to state in open session the reason for holding a closed session meeting by citing to the subdivision of R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-5(a), and 3) when the Board discussed matters, in closed session, that did not fall within R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-5(a)(2). In addition to the violations listed above, this Department identified certain matters as possible willful or knowing violations and directed the Board to provide a substantive response addressing, in a non-conclusionary manner, the willful or knowing concerns that expressed in light of the willful or knowing standard identified by the Supreme Court and this Department. A supplemental finding will follow.

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