MA. Inspector General's Office Rules PEG Services by non-profits do not fall under 30B rules and regulations

At the Monday, March 13, 2017 Select Board meeting, Jim Lescault, Executive Director of Amherst Media, spoke during public comment, presenting to the Select Board a very real alternative to the path of Request for Proposal the Town was on.  The Office of Inspector General had written their opinion regarding PEG services and 30B procurement totally redefining how the Town of Amherst’s government had interpreted the regulations.

Mr. Lescault presented an email from Joshua L. Giles, Director, Policy and Government Division, Office of the Inspector General, State of Massachusetts to David Sullivan, General Counsel, in the Senate President’s Office.

Mr. Giles had been asked to look at the definition of what type of work done on the behalf of a city or town constitutes the need to enact a 30B procurement Request for Proposal (RFP), specifically as it relates to non-profit providers of PEG and whether a 30B exemption was warranted.

 After citing the definitions and differences between “Grant Agreement” and “Services” he opinioned the following:

“Since many of the of these PEG services are provided by nonprofits through grant agreements with the town and are therefore not considered “services” under c. 30B, there isn’t a need for an exemption since, under the circumstances, PEG services provided by a nonprofit are not subject to c.30B in the first place.”

He went on to write:

“One key distinction here is that this applies to nonprofits, not for-profits.  The other key is that the nonprofit is carrying out a public support or stimulation, which PEG services are”.

This clarification by the Office of the Inspector General, that PEG services provided by nonprofits are not subject to 30B procurement laws and regulations, removes the overriding premise held by the Town Manager and the Select Board that they were mandated to follow 30B procurement due to the Department of Revenue (DOR) memo on accounting options for PEG revenues.

With this letter from the Inspector General’s Office, Mr. Lescault encouraged the Select Board to not post the RFP this coming Friday, but instead begin meaningful collaborative negotiations with Amherst Media for a new ten-year contract, one that will meet the needs of the Town’s citizens. 

“We all want the very best for the Town’s residents and I believe if Amherst Media is given the chance, through a fair and transparent contract negotiation, we will continue to provide the services that meet the citizens needs, as we have done for the past 41 years," said Mr. Lescault.

A special thanks goes out to the Senate President, Stan Rosenberg and his General Counsel David Sullivan who saw this issue as important and critical for the future of local Independent Media statewide.  We owe them our gratitude and respectful recognition for making this a priority on our collective behalf.

Please let the Town Manager and the Select Board know that you agree with stopping the RFP and opening fruitful negotiations with Amherst Media. 

Now is the time to ensure that it happens please write once again to:

selectboard@amherstma.gov

            or call

Town Manager at: (413) 259-3333

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News

Mar 22, 2017

Amherst Media is elated to announce that Amherst’s Town Manager and Select Board have reversed their decision to post a Request for Proposal (RFP) and instead is heeding the recent findings from the MA Inspector General’s Office and Department of Revenue.

This excerpt from the Town Manger’s report to the Select Board on Monday, March 20, stated the following:

What does this mean? In short, we are moving back to the way we have accounted for funds and contracted for services as we have in the past.

Next Steps: 

Mar 16, 2017

At the Monday, March 13, 2017 Select Board meeting, Jim Lescault, Executive Director of Amherst Media, spoke during public comment, presenting to the Select Board a very real alternative to the path of Request for Proposal the Town was on.  The Office of Inspector General had written their opinion regarding PEG services and 30B procurement totally redefining how the Town of Amherst’s government had interpreted the regulations.

Mar 6, 2017

There unfortunately continues to be many unanswered questions circulating around the Amherst community regarding the recent decision by the Town Manager and Select Board regarding the proposed changes in how the Town contracts Amherst Media for the Cable Access Public, Education & Government (PEG) services.

While the Town will be providing an on-line opportunity for the community to give input to the RFP, we feel there exists a real need for a community dialogue on such a monumental change in policy.

Feb 24, 2017

In an age of mass media consolidation, access to public information to insure government transparency is more vital than ever. Amherst Media, one of the oldest community access centers in the country providing that kind of transparency to its community, is in a contract dispute with the Town of Amherst. And as with many other such centers across the country over the last ten years, its future is far from certain.

Feb 24, 2017

Dear Friends of Amherst Media,

Our contract saga continues, but now, with legal counsel, we are ready to mount an exertive effort to bring the Town and Amherst Media to the table for negotiations.

A letter was submitted to the Select Board requesting that Amherst Media be placed on the Feb. 27 evening’s agenda. The letter stated that Amherst Media had obtained legal counsel as of February 20 and that our counsel would like to discuss the Town Manager’s February 3 offer to extend Amherst Media’s expired contract through June 30, 2017.