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Briefings: Easthampton police chief recovering from fall

EASTHAMPTON - Police Chief Bruce W. McMahon is recovering after he slipped on ice and injured his knee while off duty.

McMahon said he is working from home and hopes to spend some time in the Public Safety Complex this week, but he won’t be back to working eight-hour days for a while.

“It was a freak accident,” McMahon said last week.

McMahon, 53, said he was at a friend’s house Jan. 1, where the dog was having puppies. He was walking across the yard to help feed the dogs when he slipped on a patch of ice hidden under snow.

“My right leg folded under my body, dislocating my knee cap and severing my patella tendon,” McMahon said.

He underwent surgery Jan. 4 to repair the tendon and reset the knee cap at Hampshire Orthopedics and Sports Medicine.

For now, he is getting around on crutches. He doesn’t know how long his recovery will take. “My orders are to stay off the leg, keep it in the brace and keep it straight,” he said.

He is able to access his work computer from home, so he can do a few hours of work a day there, including answering emails and “shuffling paperwork,” he said. Since he was injured off the job, the rest of his time out will be sick time.

The 33-year veteran of the Police Department said he is confident the department will run as smooth as ever without him.

“They can definitely run it very well, there are a lot of good officers on the job,” he said. “And it’s not like I’m completely gone, I’m just a phone call away if anyone has a question.”

McMahon was scheduled to take a two-week vacation to Key West, Fla., starting Jan. 3, but could not go because of his injury.

Housing Partnership on TV

The Easthampton Housing Partnership, one of the three city committees that previously had voted to not videotape its meetings, has reversed that decision. The partnership unanimously voted Jan. 2 to begin taping its meetings using a community access television camera mounted in the meeting room.

The city purchased the cameras to increase the number of meetings that could be made available on local cable access channels and online.

Mayor Michael A. Tautznik in October asked boards to start activating the cameras during meetings, but the Housing Partnership, Community Preservation Act Committee and the Economic Development and Industrial Commission voted that they would not do so. Their concerns included that the recording would change the informal atmosphere at the meetings and deter volunteers and that comments recorded could be misconstrued.

Two longtime volunteers, Robert Harrison and David Boyle, have left their positions on three city boards in protest of the videotaping. Harrison, formerly a member of both the CPA Committee and the Housing Partnership, was the one who suggested the committees vote to not record meetings.

On Jan. 2, Housing Partnership member Jacqueline Brousseau-Pereira asked that the board reconsider the decision.

“We’ve had a bunch of changes in membership, and I think people felt like we should talk about this again,” Brousseau-Pereira said in a telephone interview Friday. “As the Housing Partnership, one of the things we want to do is educate the public about affordable housing and issues relating to it, so this is another way we can be accessible and out there.”

In addition to Harrison, the partnership also recently lost former members Andrew Tilbe, Melissa Boyle Pike and Victoria Netto, though Brousseau-Pereira said she thought that their departures were unrelated to the videotaping issue.

Brousseau-Pereira said she hopes the videotaping and broadcasting of meetings will not hamper the partnership’s efforts to recruit new members to fill the four vacancies.

According to the attorney general’s office, the state’s Open Meeting Law requires public bodies to allow people to record their meetings, but does not require the bodies to record themselves.

Meanwhile, the City Council’s rules subcommittee is discussing a rule proposed by Councilor Daniel D. Rist that would require only City Council subcommittees to record the meetings because city councilors are elected officials. The council also directed the subcommittee to talk about possibly requiring all city boards to tape their meetings.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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