KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- The Select Board chairman says he believes another board member leaked information about discussions had by the board during past executive sessions.
Board Chairman Joseph Krawczyk said this was why he asked each board member present at Monday’s meeting their thoughts on the nature of executive sessions. He said he asked not to place blame or point fingers, but so all could be on the same page as to the nature of those meetings. He would not say what information was leaked, who it was leaked to, nor would he indicate the specific meetings where the information is from.
Under Vermont law, select boards and school boards can hold discussions in private out of the public’s view under certain conditions. Board member Thomas Jacobs, an attorney, said the board must state first state why it is going into an executive session and must vote to enter one. The board can vote on items inside an executive session, he said. The intent is so board members can have candid discussions about sensitive matters such as contract negations, personnel issues, and legal disputes.
"I think it’s very important for the people of Bennington to know that when we’re discussing delicate matters about their business or their financial situation we’re held to strict confidence," said board member Greg Van Houten. "I would like to see us clarify a policy when the entire board is present and to make sure that everyone is on the same page, because if someone for some reason believes that it is not confidential, then it should be made clear where everybody stands."
Board members John McFadden and Sharyn Brush agreed that what is said in executive sessions should be kept between board members.
"I couldn’t agree more," said board member Jim Carroll. "It’s a betrayal of all of us, especially when it’s shared with some rather nefarious individuals. It’s a betrayal and what we say in executive session should stay there, period."
Board member Justin Corcoran was not present at Monday’s meeting.
Krawczyk said in an interview Tuesday the board has no legal authority to sanction members if it ever wished to do so.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.