February 12, 2015
The From The
“Transparent/Transparency: easy to notice or
understand : honest and open : not secretive”
From The New York State "Open Meetings Law"
“§100. Legislative declaration.
It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic
society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner
and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe
the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the
deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy. The
people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over
those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the
commonweal will prosper and enable the governmental process to operate for
the benefit of those who created it.”
I have mentioned many times that I thought it was a great idea when Village
Hall created a “blue ribbon” committee, comprised of some of the best
business minds in the Village, to discuss possible solutions to the economic
problems the Village’s Main Street is having. So that I could report on the
progress of this committee, I sent Village Hall a letter requesting that I
be notified when the first meeting of the committee was scheduled.
Unfortunately, the first meeting of the committee came and went without my
Now, I should mention that technically, the above Open Meetings Law applies
to meetings that require a quorum of two or more people and Village Hall
isn’t required by law to send out a Legal Notice that the meeting would be
taking place. However, the intent of the law is very clear, no secrets,
everything should be done in the open rather than behind closed doors.
Besides, in this case a written request was made by a resident and member of
the Press so there should have been no reason not to notify me as requested.
I then called the Village Clerk and told him that I understood that the
first meeting of the committee had taken place without my being notified as
requested. I told him that I understood that mistakes can happen and again
requested that I be notified when the second meeting of the committee was
At the January Village Board Meeting, which took place on February 9th, the
Village Board announced that the second meeting of the committee hadn’t
taken place because of the bad weather and that it would be rescheduled. I
raised my hand and asked why I, as a member of the Press and a resident of
the Village, had not been notified regarding the scheduling of this second
meeting of the committee. I told them that I had requested notification both
in writing and in a phone conversation with the Village Clerk and still, no
notification had been given to me.
Now, if they had said, “Gee Larry, we forgot to let you know. We’re sorry,
but we’ll be sure to let you know when the next meeting is scheduled” that
would have been the end of it. Instead, the Village Board tried to claim
that they have no knowledge of when the meetings are scheduled and
therefore, they can’t let me know when the meetings of the committee will be
held. Both times? They had to know there was a meeting scheduled, or
otherwise they wouldn’t have known to cancel it because of bad weather.
Trustee Rosenberg is on the committee so he had to know. Quite frankly,
their excuse is hog wash.
So, why am I making such a big deal about this? Because I feel this was a
deliberate act on the part of the Village Board designed to limit and
control the information to which Bellport.com has access. If we are to do
our job properly, we can’t allow this to continue. YOU, the public and
residents of the Village, have the right to know what’s going on. YOU have
the right to know what YOUR elected officials are doing. Other than in
“Executive Session” at Village Board meetings, nothing should be going on
behind closed doors or in secret. The Press has the right and obligation to
report on the actions of YOUR elected officials. Without free access, we
cannot do our job on YOUR behalf. A terrible precedent is being set if the
Village Board is allowed to selectively allow access by the Press and
residents of the Village. Once again, the Bellport Village Board has to be
more transparent in their actions if they are to retain the trust of the
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