Do Headers Want Hybrid Meetings?
Marblehead Beacon concluded a poll this week asking readers their opinion on public meeting accessibility.
The poll asked: Town Meeting voted to table Article 44 which required all public meetings in town to be hybrid (accessible online and in person). Do you support this article?
We received 133 responses. The results showed that 83% (110 votes) believe all public meetings should be required to be hybrid. A total of 5% (6 votes) believe the accessibility should be at the discretion of the board or committee, with 12% (16 votes) saying public meetings should be in person only and 1% (1 vote) saying all meetings should be online only.
Marblehead’s newly formed Open Meeting Committee met last week to begin consideration of the necessary infrastructure and potential costs associated with mandating hybrid meetings, or meetings that are accessible both in person and online. Prior to the pandemic, state law allowed the option for board and committee members to participate in meetings remotely, as technology was available, but only if a quorum of members were present in person. Governor Baker approved an emergency change during the pandemic that temporarily eliminated the in-person quorum requirement. This special provision was recently extended until March 2023. Only the state legislature can codify this as statewide law. Article 44, put forth at the 2022 Marblehead Town Meeting, would have required all public meetings subject to the Open Meeting law to be hybrid. The article was tabled when the Finance committee requested further research. The findings of the Open Meeting Committee are expected to be presented at the 2023 Town Meeting.