Are Acton Leaders Turning their backs on the Public?

Last year, in the name of transparent government, the Acton Leadership Group (ALG) changed its seating arrangement to the same open arrangement used by the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee, and the School Committee. This was an excellent improvement and was taken in response to requests from members of the public who regularly attend the ALG meetings. It allowed the public to hear the debates of the ALG, which is arguably the most powerful budget and tax rate setting entity within Acton.

At the 29 July meeting the ALG changed the seating back to the traditional closed seating arrangement with many backs to the public, making it difficult to impossible for the public to follow the discussion in this public meeting. Here is a picture of Acton Officials turning their backs on their public.

This return to the older arrangement was done with no public discussion, and no open vote of the ALG. It was done in spite of several protests by attending members of the public who could no longer clearly hear the discussions. It gives the appearance of a return to the days of closed, less transparent town discussions and decisions … in the view of some, a big step backward.

Is this the right message to send to the public who will be asked to support Acton in these increasingly difficult economic times?

When and how was this seating arrangement decided? And why? The public is entitled to these answers.