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AG: Advisory group can meet privately on Brunswick rail facility

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AG: Advisory group can meet privately on Brunswick rail facility

AUGUSTA — The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority is not required to admit the public to its advisory group meetings on the construction of a Brunswick train maintenance building, according to the Maine attorney general's office.

The AG's office looked into the issue after reporters complained about not being admitted to a Dec. 2 meeting of the group.

Two members of the public who are not part of the group, Brunswick Town Councilor Benet Pols and state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, were allowed to attend the meeting.

In a written statement provided Dec. 2, NNEPRA said its advisory group meetings are not "public proceedings," as defined by Maine's Freedom of Access Act, because they are not meetings of the rail authority's board.

Linda Pistner, chief deputy attorney general, confirmed Monday that NNEPRA's advisory group meetings are not public and therefore do not require them to admit the public or advertise the meetings in advance.

Pistner said an advisory organization is only covered by Maine's Freedom of Access Act if it is "established, authorized or organized by law or resolve or by executive order issued by the governor."

"The Advisory Group established by NNEPRA does not fit that definition," she said, "so the meeting was not a public proceeding requiring notice and an opportunity for the public to attend."

All the documents provided to members of the advisory group are online at amtrakdowneaster.com/expansion-project/brunswick-layover-building-advisory-group.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext.123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.