Councilwoman Martinez Charges Minutes Of Meetings Inaccurate

Do transcripts of City Council committee meetings contradict the minutes recorded by the secretarial services group hired by the City Clerk’s Office that preserves council records? City Councilwoman Enedia Martinez, a member of the Ordinance Committee, asserts that’s the case declaring “My review reveals that the minutes in many instances do not accurately reflect what actually transpired during the meetings.” Retired Superior Court Judge Carmen Lopez also asserts she discovered discrepancies in her recent case before a freedom of information hearing officer who sided with her complaint charging that a vote by the budget committee in May citing “pending litigation” for the basis of an executive session violated state law.

In that case FOI attorney Tracie Brown ordered the city to “create minutes of the executive session … to include a detailed account of the discussions that took place, including the names of the cases discussed, and further, shall forthwith file such minutes with the town clerk and provide a copy, free of charge,” to Lopez.

Martinez adds these discrepancies have delayed the Ordinance Committee from approving minutes of meetings for several months. Martinez shares this letter, dated Oct. 16, distributed to city officials, including the Mayor’s Office, City Attorney’s Office and City Clerk. She is seeking transcripts from several meetings.

On April 17, 2018, I notified the City Clerk’s Office, the Mayor’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office and the Chief Administrative Officer of my concerns regarding the accuracy of minutes taken by the Telesco Secretarial Services, the recording service used by the Office of the City Clerk to transcribe all City Council meetings, including city council committee meetings.

A copy of my April 17, 2018 email to the above mentioned City Officials is attached herewith.

I have begun the process of reviewing the proposed minutes of the Ordinance Committee meetings going back several months. My review reveals that the minutes in many instances do not accurately reflect what actually transpired during the meetings.

On October 11, 2018, I renewed my request for a response to the concerns that I expressed on April 17, 2018. In addition, I requested a copy of the transcript of each meeting, as well as the tape recordings of each meeting, so that I can compare the transcript with the proposed minutes prepared by Telesco Secretarial Services.

Copies of the emails that I sent on October 11, 2018 are attached herewith.

I believe this comprehensive review is necessary, particularly in light of a recent decision issued by a Freedom of Information Commission hearing officer.

During the course of the hearing on that matter, it was revealed that the minutes of the meeting did not accurately reflect the motions that were made and voted upon. In other words, the actual statements made by the City Attorney or the City Council member are not reflected in the minutes, but rather are edited to reflect something other than what was actually spoken.

My repeated requests for a response to this critically important matter, have been stonewalled by the City Attorney, the Mayor and the City Clerk.

Since the City Attorney introduced copies of the transcript generated by a City Council Committee at the recent hearing at the Freedom of Information Commission, there is no reason to believe that transcripts are not available.

The City Attorney and members of his staff, frequently announce at meetings that they are the legal counsel to the City Council and all of its committees. In other words, the City Council members are prevented from seeking advice from any source whatsoever, except the Office of the City Attorney.

Given that the City Attorney is of this opinion, it only seems appropriate to conclude that a failure to respond to a request for assistance from a member of the City Council, translates into a breach of the duty imposed upon attorneys regarding timely and appropriate advice to a client.

I urge the Mayor, the City Clerk and the City Attorney to take action on this critical matter immediately.



  1. *** The meeting notes are only as good as the person writing them. A recording, written notes & quick review there of after the said meeting by the chair, co-chair & notes keeper would help clear up any mistakes before hand, no? ***

  2. Councilwoman Enedia Martinez, excellent:

    1. Meeting minutes offer legal protection
    Minutes are important details that you can’t ignore if you want to keep your business in line with state laws, and to back up your tax returns. Minutes represent the actions of the Board and company leadership, and are considered legal documents by auditors, the IRS, and the courts. Legal experts will maintain that if an action isn’t in the minutes, it didn’t happen.

    2. Meeting minutes provide structure
    Even though there is no standardized format for meeting minutes, the IRS and the courts consider it important that you made a reasonable effort to report the facts of the meeting. Therefore, make sure your minute-taker sufficiently describes how Board members arrived at reasonable decisions. The minute-taker should also include the name of the organization, the date and time of the meeting, who called it to order, and who attended. If there’s a quorum, they should also note all motions made, any conflicts of interest, if any members abstained from voting, when the meeting ended, and who developed the minutes. Meeting minutes must then be approved at the next meeting by the leadership team.

    3. Meeting minutes drive action
    Good meeting minutes help drive a plan of action for your leadership team and employees. They clarify how, when, why, and by whom decisions were made. They map out a plan for the action items (which helps get the work done) and they later provide valuable information to those team members who aren’t able to attend the meeting.

    4. Meeting minutes act as a measuring stick
    Minutes record meeting decisions, which makes them a useful review document when it comes time to measure progress. They also act as an accountability tool because they make it clear who’s duty it was to perform which action. Be sure to check out Minutes of Meeting of the Board of Directors to view a template for the minutes of a board of directors meeting of a corporation.

    5. Meeting minutes state ownership
    When votes are recorded and individual names are listed alongside each vote, it serves multiple purposes. First, it tells the Board and leadership team who voted for what. This gives the Board member some possible legal protection if the majority approved an issue and a lawsuit is filed. Second, if one particular Board member abstained on the decision, or voted against the majority, it sets them apart from the suit.

    Meeting minutes can be long and detailed, or they can be short and to the point, depending on the nature of the meeting. In situations of critical importance, and where the record is important, you may need to take detailed minutes. When this isn’t the case, minutes can be simple lists of decisions made and actions that need to be taken (with the responsible person identified). Generally, minutes should be as short as possible as long as they highlight all key information.

    One last note: it is always preferable for the minutes taker to disseminate the minutes within 24 hours of the end of the meeting. Preferable still is for them to issue the minutes on the same day.

  3. Perhaps Ron Mackey would be kind enough to share the source of his comment and share it with the city council members.

    Perhaps Council Member Eneida Martinez should reveal her ghost writer. I’ve suggested she get assistance with grammar, but this is obviously contributed by a skilled critical thinker.

    1. I’m confused about some details in Council Member Martinez’s request.

      Did the City Attorney present transcripts of meetings that had not been approved by the city council committee?

      If so, why would the council members allow committee items to move forward without approval so they could be official actions of the committee?

      Perhaps the city council members should review their lack of action and followup before they criticise the transcriber and city attorney’s office.

  4. All 20 City Council members should be taking notes when ever they are working on City business and talking with each other and questioning each other and comparing their notes and memory on important issues. This is just example why there should be some opposition from Republican City Council members instead of a all Democrats


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