Complaint to the Open Meetings Compliance Board re: Baltimore ECB (February 14th, 2011)

Open Meetings Compliance Board

c/o/ Attorney General’s Office

200 St. Paul Place

Baltimore, MD 21202

February 14, 2011

Dear Sirs,

This is a complaint about the Environmental Control Board (ECB) of Baltimore City, which is part of the local government of Baltimore City. This Board is an administrative tribunal that holds hearings on certain violations within Baltimore City. The Board hears over 15,000 cases per year, and collects over $5 million in annual revenue for the City of Baltimore. Over the past 11 years, it collected over $50 million from Baltimore City citizens.

The Board holds administrative hearings with an administrative judge on citations and various violations within the city. It also has review panels which hear appeals from regular hearings. Originally both were held in an open session, however when the Board staff saw subsequent defendants listened to others in open court and used the same defense, the hearings were turned into closed sessions. Currently, only defendants and their attorneys are allowed to attend their own hearings. The Board does not post a docket or provide notice to the public about its hearings.

I ask the Open Meeting Compliance Board to rule on the following:

  1. Whether the ECB when performing a quasi-judicial function of an administrative hearing is required to hold this hearing an open session, allowing anyone to attend without prior notice to the Board.

  2. Whether the Board when performing this quasi-judicial function must post notice to the public about its hearings including its daily dockets.

  3. Whether the ECB must hold hearings in a place sufficiently large enough that members of the public may attend.

  4. Whether appeals and review panel hearings must be held as open meetings, with prior notice to the public and a publicly published docket.

  5. Whether the Board meeting as whole not in a quasi-judicial function, must hold its meetings in an open fashion with prior notice to the public.

Thank you for your assistance,

Yakov Shafranovich

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