AYER -- Two selectmen said there no was violation to the Open Meeting Law when three of them met in Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand's office following the April 23 meeting.
Chairman Jim Fay and Selectmen Christopher Hillman and Pauline Conley were in the office, according to Fay and Hillman.
Fay said the meeting was fleeting in duration and harmless in nature. He said no one brought up town business. He took issue with a story published in the April 26 edition of the Ayer Public Spirit, saying the story implied that an "alleged illegal meeting" took place.
The Public Spirit, acting on a tip from an unidentified source, reported that the three selectmen were "allegedly meeting" in Pontbriand's office.
Via email on April 23, a reporter sought confirmation from the three as to whether they'd met in Pontbriand's office that evening. No response was received as of press time.
Also that evening, a reporter sought to talk with Pontbriand and Hillman, who were still in Pontbriand's office. Pontbriand said through his closed door that he was busy. Hillman responded by email April 24 explaining the topics of discussion in Pontbriand's office.
"Pauline, Robert and I were discussing the Boston terror attacks, and our feelings of the whole disaster," wrote Hillman. "Jim popped in to ask me if I was alright, because I was obviously not in a good mood!"
Hillman wrote that Fay asked him "if I wanted to go shoot some pool to relax, that's it! I declined as I wanted to talk to the Robert because we have not spoken since last week.
Earlier that evening, the Ayer Board of Selectmen met and voted 4-0 to lodge an ethics complaints against fellow selectman Frank Maxant for releasing Pontbriand's notes from an executive session held in November. The Public Spirit previously had made a request for the executive meeting notes and was denied.
On Monday, April 29, Fay responded to the meeting in Pontbriand's office, saying: "Selectman Hillman responded correctly that I had only stopped in to see if he was OK and would he like to shoot some pool with me. I then left the building," said Fay. "Hence no illegal meeting."
He added, "No deliberations were made on public business that may come before the board. Three selectmen can be in the same room at the same time and it is not a violation of the law as we have learned from our recent OML training ..."
Selectman Conley never responded to the Public Spirit's request for comment.