Often that subatomic particle physics gets cited...


August 27, 1994

IT'S NOT often that subatomic particle physics gets cited as a precedent in a legal opinion. But the state's Open Meetings Compliance Board managed to find one.

A local agency argued that a closed-door meeting was permitted under the law because it fell under a particular exclusion. The agency reasoned that what it was doing constituted an executive function, which does not have to be conducted in public view. Since its activity fell into none of the other categories described in the law, the agency argued, it must be an executive function.

Not so, the board decided. "In short, the discussion fell within none of the six functions defined in the act," the board said in an opinion written by its attorney, Jack Schwartz, who is chief counsel for opinions in the attorney general's office.

"But just as the universe of subatomic particles probably contains particles as yet undetected, so the universe of activities subject to the open meetings act contains functions that are undefined by the act."

Now, if we could only get lawyers to adopt the theory of relativity. . .

* * *

ALOT OF businesses have installed computerized telephone equipment to answer calls and direct them to the proper office. The caller has to push several buttons in response to instructions from a computerized voice. The business saves operators' salaries, and in some cases handles calls more efficiently. But not always.

One of the nation's great telecommunications companies has installed such equipment, as would be expected. A recent caller to its service number found it an exercise in frustration. In an attempt to order a duplicate charge card, he had to work his way through 10 instructions before reaching the proper human being to deal with his request.

The caller calculated that his hourly rate of pay was much greater than that of a telephone operator. Efficiency, yes, but at whose expense?

* * *

FROM THE how-did-you-spend-summer-vacation department: Todd and Diane Smith were attending an auction of items owned by Elvis Presley when the murder of O.J. Simpson's ex-wife and her friend occurred.

The Chestertown couple wasted no time. "I had always wanted to drive from Vegas to L.A.," Mr. Smith told the Shore Digest, "and since it was no problem to rent a car in Vegas and return it in L.A., we decided this was our perfect opportunity." The Smiths first visited O.J.'s house, then went to see Nicole's.

"It's one thing to see this on TV and in the newspapers, but when you stand in front of it in person, it puts a more realistic and personal view in your mind," Todd Smith said. "It was a sad day on both sides of Sunset Boulevard."

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