Not-So-Open Meeting Tomorrow Morning
by Buck Quigley - posted 6:17 pm, December 9, 2008
I learned this yesterday from Betsy Baumler, James Kaskie’s secretary. Kaskie is the President and CEO of both Great Lakes Health and also Kaleida Health—both entities are located at 100 High Street.
The Open Meetings Law says, “Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior thereto shall be given to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least seventy-two hours before such meeting.” I asked her why we didn’t get a notice of the meeting here at Artvoice. She asked if I would like to receive a notice. I told her it would be nice, being a member of the media, and all. She asked for my fax number and I gave it to her. Now here it is after 5pm, some 15 hours before a public meeting, and still no invite in our fax machine at Artvoice. Was it something I said?
Figuring that might happen, I called the downtown library and spoke to Linda Bohen, the person to whom Baumler told me she’d sent the meeting notice last Thursday. Bohen forwarded the email to me, in which Baumler writes: “Could you replace the posting sent to you yesterday from Pat Grasha at ECMC with the attached? The lawyers have added a paragraph to the bottom.”
You can read the notice, including the additional paragraph at the bottom by clicking here. As you can see, this open meeting will differ from most open meetings in that much of it will be conducted in either closed session or executive session. So much for transparency.
Last Friday, I asked Baumler about all the meetings of the committees within what was then Western New York Health System, or NewCo, and is now known as Great Lakes Health System of Western New York, Inc. I did so since, after all, the Open Meetings Law says, “‘Public body’ means any entity, for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which consists of two or more members, performing a governmental function for the state or for an agency or department thereof, of for a public corporation as defined in section sixty-six of the general construction law, or committee or subcommittee or other similar body of such public body.”
She said she’d check with their lawyers, to see if she could divulge the dates those meetings took place. She didn’t call back, so I called her yesterday. She said she was about to go into a conference call with counsel and would call me back. She didn’t. At 4:50pm I called her back, and she said that counsel said I would have to file a FOIL request to find out when those meetings had taken place.
I told her I just wanted the dates so I could be more specific when I submitted my FOIL request. She said she couldn’t tell me. “OK, but you’ve told me there are four committees. Can you tell me what those four committees are called, so I could include that in my FOIL request?” No. “You’ll have to file a FOIL requesting that information.” She also said I should call the Great Lakes lawyers and ask them. Right.
In the interest of providing you some disclosure, I could post the redacted Newco meeting minutes provided to me by their lawyers (Mr. Wild) in late November.
But to save time, you can click here and read the meeting minutes provided to me by ECMC many months ago. In this document, I went through and highlighted all the crucial elements that the Great Lakes lawyers down in Great Neck, NY, chose to white-out, feeling the people of Western New York have no right to know.