Goldberg, O'Brien Meeting About CCC Suspension Delayed Until December

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — The meeting that was supposed to take place Tuesday between suspended Cannabis Control Commission Chairwoman Shannon O'Brien and Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has been pushed off by nearly a month and its format has still not been publicly ironed out.

Goldberg, who appointed O'Brien to chair the CCC last fall and suspended her from the position with pay on Sept. 15, will now meet with O'Brien on Dec. 5, the treasurer's office told the News Service on Friday. Details of the meeting -- including whether it will be open to the public and press -- were not available from the Treasury.

When she suspended O'Brien from the position of CCC chair, Goldberg issued a statement saying she did so based on "[s]everal serious allegations" that were made by an unnamed commissioner and CCC staff about O'Brien's behavior. O'Brien filed a lawsuit asking the court for a preliminary injunction to stop Goldberg "from continuing her unlawful removal of Chair O'Brien from her position."

A court hearing was scheduled in that matter -- it was to be before Judge Debra Squires-Lee, the same judge who just denied advocates' attempts to stop Gov. Maura Healey from imposing a cap on the state's emergency shelter system -- but it was called off when Goldberg agreed to give O'Brien a meeting.

A key part of O'Brien's lawsuit against Goldberg is the fact that the chairwoman was not granted an opportunity to be heard before being removed, as required under the state law that dictates how appointments to and removals from the CCC are made.

And while O'Brien seems to think the sit-down will be a public hearing -- she or her lawyers have repeatedly used that word and O'Brien said when granted a meeting that she was "very much looking forward to having the opportunity to explain in detail to the Treasurer and the Public the significant issues facing the Cannabis Control Commission" -- Goldberg's office has more frequently referred to the huddle with O'Brien as a meeting and has said details on the format are not available.

Since O'Brien's suspension, Commissioner Ava Callender Concepcion has been chairing CCC meetings. But the CCC voted to make Concepcion acting chair only through Nov. 9, and commissioners are expected to discuss the chairmanship issue more in depth at a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday.

The CCC is also operating with an acting executive director. Chief People Officer Debra Hilton-Creek was tapped to serve as acting executive director of the CCC "until the return of" Executive Director Shawn Collins, who is out on parental leave until early December.

Written by Colin A. Young/SHNS

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