Breaking news on open meetings charges lodged by losing Cape Vincent town council candidate.
Last Monday, (Dec. 9) Town of Cape Vincent public officials and duly appointed Article 10 committee members, along with a WEPG representative, met in what was described as a lawyer client privilege meeting prior to a New York State Public Service Commission Procedural Conference held at the Cape Vincent Elementary school. The Attorney they were meeting with, Paul Curtin of Cazenovia, NY was granted intervenor funds by Judge Paul Agresta, administrative Judge of the PSC. The people present were representing two of the fourteen recognized parties listed on their website in PSC Matter #12-02056 Case #12-F-0410.
By that definition, it would appear that, "there were no strangers in the room" other than Mr. Pearson during the brief period of time he interrupted and took a picture of the lawyer-client privilege meeting.
Although, the content of the meeting was described as a privileged matter and was not reveled, it was reported in the Watertown Daily Times, "'The Open Meetings Law refers to extra members of the public as 'strangers' who do not represent the client. 'As soon as you have someone else in the room, it’s not attorney-client privilege anymore,' Mr. Freeman said. 'If there were other people present, the gathering should have been proceeded with notice and been open to the public.'"
That does not appear to be an accurate description of the Town of Cape Vincent meeting in question.
Today, in a telephone call to Mr. Robert Freeman, executive director of the NYS Committee on Open Government, he was given a more thorough and accurate description of the persons meeting with Attorney Curtin. After hearing the description of those present, Freeman opined that his understanding was that the client-privilege meeting was legitimate under the open meetings process.
As for Mr. Pearson, I believe he is walking on thin ice with his open meetings charges since he has never attended any of the Town of Cape Vincent Article 10 advisory committee meetings which have been held nearly every week for over a year since British Petroleum filed its intent to elect Article 10 siting of its Cape Vincent proposal. If Pearson had been in attendance at the open Article 10 advisory meetings, I believe he would have had a better understanding of why the Attorney was meeting with the people present.