Monday, March 3, 2014

WPTZ Story: You decide if Burlington's City Council President Shannon gave an accurate answer to WPTZ

On Sunday night's WPTZ Channel 5, News at 6 PM broadcast, Burlington City Council President Joan Shannon
said the discussion between and her Charter Change Committee Chair Rachel Siegel were scheduling the meetings
for a specific purpose with regard to the degree of public attendance. 
You look at the quote down below, which is from the Joan Shannon to Rachel Siegle E-mail.  That is an attachment
to this E-mail.  Then compare it to Joan Shannon's explanation of the E-mail to the WPTZ reporter.  Link to her
explanation is below.  Is her answer accurate, you decide? 
“No one shows up to Charger Change meetings... unless you're talking guns,” Shannon responds. “[T]hen a lot of people show up, I assume. Midday/Midweek might keep the crowd down, but there seem to be plenty of people who are employed during the day by the gun industry.”

Read more:

Attached, please find a PDF file which is a un-altered printout of an email between President Shannon and Charter Chair Siegel which was obtained during the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs’s, Public Records Request.
Below, please find a section of s larger report that VFSC has been working on concerning the PRR request and the information uncovered. 
The larger report, while still not complete, proved that there was no groundswell of requests for action, it proved that email input Against the gun control ordinances outnumbered those  For in excess of 10:1, it showed such things as the huge number of interactions from MAIG, it detailed other possible issues/violations of Open Meeting law, it showed preferential inclusion and pandering to the “antis”, it contains extensive documentation on the failings of the City to comply with a public records request (blown timelines, bungled searches that we had to correct them on, failure to provide certain documents until specifically request, “holding” documents that might have exemptions/redactions, statements that documents would be delivered but weren’t, the fact that there are now 616 exempted/redacted documents. 
On January 7th, a very large crowd of gun rights supporters attended and despite Public Input which was 100% percent against the proposed Assault Weapons Ban resolution brought forward by Councilor Blais, the City Council voted 10-3 to move forward with the resolution by placing it with the Burlington City Council’s Charter Change Committee for further development.  This further development was intended to craft the supporting language, with the goal being to move this back and then through the Council, and ultimately bring it to the Burlington voters at the 2014 Town Meeting for a vote.
Burlington records show that on 1/24/2013, Charter Committee Chair Rachel Seigel asks City Council President Joan Shannon via email if Shannon is aware of how many people show up at Charter Committee Meetings.  In this email Siegel relates her concern that the “gun issue could pull in a few people”; she informs President Shannon that she is considering holding the meetings during the day, and she then further indicates that she believes that “Maybe this will keep the crowd down.
President Shannon then responds to that email with the comments of “No one shows up to Charter Change meetings...unless your talking guns....then a lot of people show up, I assume.  Midday/ Midweek might keep the crowd down…”.
Burlington records show that of 17 meetings of the Charter Change Committee held between January and mid-November 2013, all of which were scheduled by Charter Change Committee Chair Rachel Siegel, only two of these meetings were held at 5PM or later, and those two meetings agenda’s indicated no discussion of firearms. 

Of the 14 Charter Change Committee meetings at which issues pertaining to firearms were discussed (they typically lasted 1 hour):
·         One (1) was scheduled for 11:00 AM,
·         Eight (8) were scheduled for 11:30 AM
·         Three (3) were scheduled for Noon
·         One (1) was scheduled for 3:00 PM
·         One (1) was scheduled for 4:00 PM.
In order to insure public involvement, meetings should and must be scheduled with an eye towards the inclusion of the working public, not purposeful exclusion or for the sole convenience of the scheduler.  Chair Siegel conceived the concept to limit public participation, she then colluded with Council President Shannon to limit public participation, and the record then shows that Chair Siegel then enacted her plan to limit public participation.  The record further shows that the record(s) show that scheduling meetings during the day was problematic for Charter Change Committee Member Bram Kranichfeld (who was an initial member of the Charter Change Committee and who expressed via email that meetings during the day would be problematic for him due to his work (see email of 2/16/2013 11:11 AM)), such that he could not make several scheduled meetings.
Title 1 VSA § 314(a) states:  “A person who is a member of a public body and who knowingly and intentionally violates the provisions of this subchapter or who knowingly and intentionally participates in the wrongful exclusion of any person or persons from any meeting for which provision is herein made, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $500.00.