Focus on open government. In 2022 | News, Sports, Jobs

In January, many will start the New Year with goals to exercise more, eat better, lose weight, and more. January will also be the time when newly elected officials or incumbents entering another term take office in New York State.

Old habits are hard to change in people and especially hard to change in government. Elected officials should start 2022 by conducting public affairs in an open and transparent manner. To show their commitment to open government, elected members of a village council, city council, city council or county legislature must present and pass a New Year’s resolution declaring that they:

Post timely notice of all meetings at least one week before a meeting.

Post meeting agendas and all meeting documents online, at least 48 hours before a meeting.

¯ Post the draft meeting report online, no later than two weeks after a meeting.

¯ Allow members of the public to speak at the start of a meeting regarding agenda items and non-agenda items, either in person or remotely.

¯ Support live video streaming of meetings and post video recording online afterwards.

¯ Only hold private executive meetings on rare occasions, in accordance with New York State’s open meetings law. We understand that a motion to hold an executive meeting to discuss “dispute”, “staff” Where “collective bargaining” is not sufficient, as the Open Meetings Act requires motions to state more information when holding an executive session.

Support that our elected members complete and post an annual financial disclosure form on our government website. (As the elected officials of the State do)

¯ Although private political party caucus meetings are permitted by law, we agree not to hold such meetings. There is no reason at the local level to hold private caucus meetings of political parties to discuss political or public affairs.

¯ We support the public’s right to obtain records and will ensure that information regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) is posted in a visible location on our website. We will proactively post materials online as much as possible so that the public can access the information without having to file a FOIL request. We will also post an easy-to-fill blank form that will help the public to file a FOIL request by email on our website.

¯ We are committed to responding to all FOIL requests in a timely manner and will request a quarterly status report regarding FOIL requests from an appropriate member of staff to monitor compliance with the law.

Paul Wolf, Esq., Is president of the New York Coalition for Open Government.

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