The order is issued to continue to promote and encourage participation in governmental meetings by members of the public and is in accordance with the regulations from the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 940 CMR 29.10. The order does not hinder any municipal body from holding in-person meetings whenever possible, as is recommended by the Attorney General. The order also states that members of public bodies must continue to ensure that remote participation in meetings continue and remain in compliance with the state Open Meeting Law.
Mayor Sarno states, “As we continue to move our Springfield forward out of this COVID-19 pandemic, we must remain cognizant of the fact that at any time a surge or uptick in COVID-19 case could hinder our ability to hold in-person meetings. As such, I am issuing this executive order allowing remote participation for members of all municipal bodies for public meetings. My administration wishes to continue to promote and encourage participation in governmental meetings while also allowing municipal bodies to return to in-person meetings whenever possible.”
“Thanks to the efforts from Parks, Buildings, and Recreational Management Executive Director Patrick Sullivan and our dedicated facility team our municipal buildings and meeting rooms have been retrofitted with iWave air purification systems, MERV filters and Carrier OptiClean air filtration systems. Also, we have installed protective and safety measures for the return to either in-person meetings or hybrid in-person meetings,” Mayor Sarno continued. “In addition, the team at Focus Springfield has been an invaluable partner helping to keep our local municipal government bodies going and keeping our residents and business community informed throughout this pandemic.”
City Council President Jesse Lederman stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges, among those included ensuring the continuity of local government. Virtual meetings allowed the City Council to continue much of our work throughout the pandemic and presented new opportunities for public engagement. As we prepare for a return to in-person meetings, we recognize the importance of virtual flexibility in the case of future emergencies, and as a potential tool to promote public engagement. I am thankful for the opportunity to work together with Mayor Sarno’s administration and our partners at Focus Springfield to begin putting in place the policies and infrastructure to make this possible.”
Ward 2 Councilor Attorney Michael Fenton said, “Remote access and participation for government agencies and the public expands transparency and accountability. Over the years the Council has become more transparent - seven years ago while I was Council President, we blazed the trail by streaming meetings, public speak-outs, and committee meetings for the first time ever. We then enabled complete remote participation when forced to do so by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we emerge from the worst days of the pandemic, we will adapt with a hybrid model. As we navigate the waters of future remote participation, we will remain committed to the good government values of expanding transparency and accountability.”