Condo Media - June 2020 - 57

author) together with the proposed
budget. Naturally, for our association
meeting, the board would have to send
out any communication and budget
information as well. Should there be
an election, perhaps an address by the
aspiring board member with his or her
credentials could also be included.
No doubt there will be growing pains
with this new normal. For instance, some
unit owners will not have computers and
will not be able to participate. Perhaps
the proxy voting bylaws may have to be
tweaked to accommodate those that
cannot participate remotely.
The right to vote and to participate in
community association affairs is fundamental, and, as such, must be protected.
During the crisis, we've received dozens
of calls from board members concerning
whether or not to hold annual meetings
or budget meetings and the like. We've
recommended postponing these meetings by and large until the crisis abates.
Lately, since it does not look like the crisis
will subside anytime soon, we've urged
boards to consider implementing remote
access meetings as soon as they are able.
Our caveats are similar to those raised
by civil rights advocates when town
and state officials sought to limit or
suspend public meetings. For example,
in response to Governor Raimondo
suspending the open meetings law due
to the COVID-19 crisis and the need for
social distancing, Steven Brown from
the RI affiliate of the American Civil
Liberties Union and John Marion from
Common Cause Rhode Island wrote to
the governor with suggestion which I
paraphrase from another recent article
in the Providence Journal, published on
March 22, 2020.
Both gentlemen acknowledged in
their letter that this is an extraordinary
time for state and local governments as
they cope with the COVID-19 outbreak,
and while they agree that during such
time there is a need to relax some
safeguards in the RI Open Meetings Act,
they suggested some tweaks which I
paraphrase as follows:
n Should audio video coverage of a meeting be interrupted, the presiding official
should suspend discussion until audio
or video is restored.

n When operating remote meetings
by video conference, all participating
members of the meeting must
be clearly visible and audible to the
other members at all times relevant
to the meeting.
n The presiding official should announce
the names of any members of the body
participating remotely. If only audio
is provided, anyone speaking should
repeat their names before making
their remarks.
n All votes should be conducted by roll
call so that those following by video or
audio are aware of how each member
of the board or body voted.
n Any document presented to the public
body at the meeting should, if possible
be put on the website of the public body
prior to the start of the public meeting.

With the above analogy in mind,
we submit that executive board
members would do well to keep the
above safeguards in mind when conducting remote meetings. We are aware
that there inevitably will be glitches;
for instance, how to ensure privacy
in voting. In the above scenario, the
public is entitled to know how a public
board member voted. That is not often
necessarily the case with votes for
executive board members, and, in fact,
confidentiality should be protected.
Our law firm will shortly be making
recommendations to our association
clients to amend their bylaws to
accommodate remote meetings, and
we will surely incorporate the civil
rights safeguards and principals set
forth above and urge other community
association practitioners to do so
as well.
n FRANK A. LOMBARDI, ESQ., CCAL

n The public body should record all
meetings and make the recording
available on a public website on a
timely basis.

IS A PARTNER IN THE LAW FIRM
LOMBARDI LAW GROUP, LLC IN
LINCOLN, RI.

Building Envelope
Restoration Specialists

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June 2020 CONDOMEDIA

57



Condo Media - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Condo Media - June 2020

Contents
Condo Media - June 2020 - Cover1
Condo Media - June 2020 - Cover2
Condo Media - June 2020 - Contents
Condo Media - June 2020 - 2
Condo Media - June 2020 - 3
Condo Media - June 2020 - 4
Condo Media - June 2020 - 5
Condo Media - June 2020 - 6
Condo Media - June 2020 - 7
Condo Media - June 2020 - 8
Condo Media - June 2020 - 9
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Condo Media - June 2020 - 11
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Condo Media - June 2020 - Cover3
Condo Media - June 2020 - Cover4
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