KINGSTON- Kially Ruiz, the co-manager of the Kingston Wind Independence Turbine, has filed an Open Meeting Law complaint with Attorney General Martha Coakley against Kingston Board of Health (BOH) member Daniel Sapir for holding an “illegal meeting” to “deprive Kingston Wind of its right to due process.”
This week, the Journal received a copy of Ruiz’s complaint, which was filed on January 9th. In the complaint, Ruiz alleges that Sapir held a Board of Health meeting “despite [the meeting] not being posted and despite not having a quorum.”
Ruiz’s complaint stems from a BOH assembly held on November 14, 2012 in the Kingston Town House. Sapir was the only member of the BOH in attendance for the meeting, although roughly 20 residents also sat in as Sapir spoke about hiring a “special counsel” to deal with complaints about Kingston’s Independence Turbine atop the town’s capped landfill.
“Mr. Sapir proceeded to make demands for appointing a ‘special counsel,’” Ruiz writes in the complaint.
The complaint filed by Ruiz echoes November 14 statements by Mark Beaton, a member of Kingston’s Green Energy Committee, that Sapir’s November 14th assembly in Room 203 of the Town House was “not really legal.”
Sapir’s video interview with KingstonJournal.com is mentioned by name in the Ruiz complaint, which was authored and signed by Ruiz himself. In the Journal’s interview, Sapir addressed the legality of the meeting saying, “I don’t think [the meeting] was illegal, and it wasn’t a meeting…as it turned out, there was no meeting because there wasn’t a quorum.”
Ruiz alleges that Sapir has also violated the Open Meeting Law “in various meetings thereafter,” but does not specify dates.
“We have reason to believe that Mr. Sapir has continued to hold illegal meetings with project opponents via e-mail and in person. Mr. Sapir needs to recues himself from acting or voting in this matter,” Ruiz’s complaint reads. “The [BOH] needs to fully investigate his actions for conflict of interest, ethics violations and advocacy.”
Last Tuesday, Kingston Town Counsel responded to Ruiz’s complaint with a letter addressed to Ruiz’s Rhode Island residence. The Journal has also received a copy of Town Counsel’s response.
“Complaints alleging violations of the Open Meeting Law must be received by the public body within 30 days of the alleged violation,” Town Counsel writes.
Ruiz’s Open Meeting Law complaint was filed 55 days after the alleged violation.
“Your complaint has not been timely filed,” Town Counsel’s letter reads.
The letter also addresses Sapir’s KingstonJournal.com interview, “The Open Meeting Law does not, in any way, limit a member of a public body to discuss matters before the public body on a one-on-one basis with members of the public, whether in person or via electronic communications.”
Town Counsel also claims that Sapir’s November 14 meeting was “properly posted in accordance with the Open Meeting Law.”
Town Counsel’s response to the Ruiz complaint concludes, “We do not have sufficient facts to substantiate your allegations against Mr. Sapir and the [BOH]. Therefore, no action will be taken on your complaint.”
Sapir spoke to the Journal on Saturday afternoon and said he believed Ruiz filed the complaint as “an act of desperation.” Sapir called the complaint “transparent” and said, “It’s a sad day when somebody can file a complaint to try and bump somebody’s vote from a board.”
Both Sapir and Ruiz are still awaiting a response from the office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley on the Open Meeting Law complaint.
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