The South Portland City Council will hold a Freedom of Access Act training session on Monday, in part to address concerns about one councilor’s emails.

Instruction will be provided by Sally Daggett, an attorney with Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry of Portland who is the city’s corporation counsel, and Brenda Kielty, a lawyer who is the state’s public access ombudsman.

The city occasionally hosts training sessions for newer councilors, who are required by law to attend, said City Manager James Gailey. Elected officials from several neighboring communities have been invited to participate in the 6:30 p.m. meeting.

Daggett and Kielty will address the general legal requirements regarding public meetings and records, including when public boards may hold closed-door meetings, how to respond to requests for public records, and what the consequences are for failing to comply with the act.

The council’s conduct under the act has come under scrutiny recently after Councilor Brad Fox sent emails to the entire council and other city officials about a controversial proposal by NGL Supply Terminal Co. to build a liquefied petroleum gas depot at Rigby Yard. Some of the emails were critical of the proposal.

Councilor Claude Morgan has said the mass emails potentially violated the act’s prohibition against using emails as a substitute for public deliberations, though Morgan said he had no evidence that Fox’s emails prompted a back-and-forth discussion among a quorum of councilors. At least three councilors suggested or asked that Fox stop sending mass emails to the council for fear they constituted illegal “meetings.”

Fox has said that he didn’t intend to violate open-meeting requirements; he believed the mass emails were protected free speech and he simply intended to share information about the propane proposal.

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