Friday, March 09, 2007

TOWN BD WORK SESSIONS SHOULD BE TELEVISED

I plan to renew a request to the Town Board that I made over a year ago to televise Town Board work sessions. In addition, I will ask the Town Board to extend dial democracy to Town Board work sessions so that residents who can't attend can call in - live when important issues are discussed.
Finally -- I will urge the Board to stream (live on the web) all Town Board work sessions and Town Board meetings. Residents currently have the ability to watch old meetings of the Town Board on the web. The meetings are not aired live. If Town Board work sessions would be televised live on the web and streamed live - it will enable people who work in the city or elsewhere to watch the meeting on the internet and to participate - away from home, if there is an important issue.
Open government is important. Citizens must be provided with the opportunity to become full partners in the decision making processes of their government.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know people who have been trying for months to get on the Town Board agenda. If the meetings are televised and we can call in, they can't ignore us. Good for you, Paul!

Anonymous said...

If the public has the right to speak at work sessions the work sessions would become like the Town Board meetings, filled with insults, fighting, and endless. But while there should be no right for the public to speak at work sessions, the Board should be reasonable about letting people speak when there is a purpose for it.

Anonymous said...

PAUL,you will be fighting a loosing battle,with the four chair warmers on the board. You know dam well that they don't give a dam for the public. LOTS OF LUCK.

Anonymous said...

Between 1991 and 2005, when Feiner was in charge of the Town Board, he set the agenda, ran the Tuesday work session, and the town council was a rubber stamp.

During that 14 year period, Feiner never once suggested that the town board's work sessions be televised.

Nor did Feiner permit any residents who publicly disagreed with him to be invited to any work sessions to make his or her case.

So paranoid was Feiner about any public criticism during this 14-year period, that residents with issues either had to make their case during the five minutes Feiner allowed during the town's regular bi-weekly meetings, or Feiner would literally cut them off, which often meant cutting off the microphone and switching off the cameras.

But within the past two years, Feiner's been caught cooking the town's books, engaging in illegal transactions, violating state law, and taking campaign contributions from lawyers and consultants with applications pending before the town.

As a result, he's desperate for more face time on television to repair his tarnished image.

I guess that's why he now wants TV cameras recording the work sessions. He'd gladly take some more free TV time -- courtesy of taxpayers -- as he campaigns for reelection.

I hope the town council sees this latest Feiner ploy for what it is.

Anonymous said...

Tell me who else on the board accepted monies for their reelections.Just think ....Paul was not the only one,and what makes this a crime. No matter who runs for elections accepts donations. Tell me who on the board did not accept a dime,and I will all you a liar.

Anonymous said...

Paul Feiner has always been an advocate for open government. He always encourages people to speak at meetings. Even people who don't like him are allowed to speak. This blog is an example. Can you think of any other elected official who lets people insult and slander them on their own web site? I can't.
I do not think that Paul wants more free cable television exposure. Televising board work sessions would provide the public with more free air time, which is good.

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to watch the work session debate that took place before the Board decided to hire the Democratic party leaders law firm to represent the town. Did council members disclose if they received campaign donations from the party chair? Was this a pay-o-la? pay to play!

hal samis said...

Dear anon @ 8:13,

Chances are they won't miss this latest "ploy" because you will be discussing it when you meet in work session.

Whatever the reasons, right or wrong, there shouldn't be any opposition to televising these sessions, right?

Next issue...

Anonymous said...

If the Town Board approves Feiner's proposal it will show all of us that the Board puts good proposals ahead of petty politics. There is no reason why anyone should object to this good government proposal.

Anonymous said...

TELEVISED WORK SESSIONS:
I have seen televised Town Board work sessions of another Town in NY State. I have seen these on tape on TV there, and can't say if they are televised live when they actually occur, but they are repeated often on the local public access station. What an education they provide.
The Board in this area has chosen three areas in that Town, (which has unincorporated areas and Villages, like Greenburgh, but they hold these meetings in unincorporated areas) in which to hold the work sessions. In other words, they have encompassed the whole Town by going to the three areas once each month for work sessions.
From what I gather, the public can come to these meetings, but it appears they they don't speak unless they are called upon by the Board to contribute their local expertise to an issue of concern, to that area of the Town. All sorts or work is done at these meetings, not just work pertaining to the area where the meeting is being held.

Two things strike me as I have watched these meetings.

Number 1: I become aware of which Town Board members are Laisons to which Departments of Town Gov't because they report on issues facing their Laison dept. From the blogs on this site, (and not at all from watching Bd. meetings,) I know that Diana Jeuttner in laison to Library and Francis Sheehan to Planning and Zoning.) Don't know what the others on our Board are Laison to.
Number 2: Being a Council member or Supervisor is not an easy job. The array of issues and opinions on the issues is mind boggling. The Town Attorney is always there and will inform the Board of legal problems they have or might encounter.
The Supervisor in this Town has the overall picture in mind and is knowledgable about most of the issues - and sometimes brings up things that the Council is not aware of or needs to consider in a timely fashion. He asks questions of the Council members, asks for their opinions and ideas, and for the most part makes the decisions about how to proceed - or puts it off for further research with a give and take from the Council members who sometimes disagree with each other or the Supervisor. Then they have to work things out which is quite interesting to see.
When the Town Board finally has its two times a month public meetings for public comment and votes on resolutions I can see from having watched the work session, that they are all well prepared to move forward and answer public concerns on whatever is before them.
Bottom line - I never understood all that went in to running Town Gov't until I watched these work sessions. Watching only the Town Board meetings gives citizens less half the picture.

No matter what your opinions, it's like a veil being lifted from your eyes if you can see Twn Bd. meetings AND work sessions.

Anonymous said...

This is State law now, not a Feiner initiative. Nothing needs to be "requested" or "urged." The Town just needs to comply with the law.

A plan was due ten days ago to the Governor's office that identifies all meetings of that are subject to the Open Meetings Law, and specifies a timetable for ensuring that all such meetings are broadcast on the Internet.

By State law, this must begin no later than July 1.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Feiner posted the same thing in January when the Governor issued this as an executive order. I wouldn't be surprised if the "initiative" again now were prompted by a warning letter from the State that the Town's action plan to the Governor's office is late.

hal samis said...

Aren't we all glad that this is State Law. Apparently only the Supervisor reads the newspapers and was aware of this. I don't recall any nagging from the Town Council that the Town had better hurry and implement the Order.
But, now we can be five times sure that televising the work sessions will occur.

Next issue.

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that we have a Town Supervisor who wants to let the sunshine in. Supervisor Feiner has, to his credit, encouraged involvement in policy decisions by citizens. This blog is just one example.
I hope that the Town Board will pass Feiner's resolutions when they meet on Wednesday. It's a no brainer. Let the public speak at Board work session meetings. Let the public watch meetings on the internet. Stream meetings live. Provide the people with advance agendas.

Anonymous said...

The executive order from Spitzer applies to state agencies. Only the State Legislature can mandate that local governments stream meetings on the web or open up work sessions. The town is not under Spitzer's control, although they must comply with NY State law if the state legislature takes action.

My "pal" Hal said...

Meetings go on forever. Politicians and would-be politicians listen fondly to the sound of their own voices. Streaming, podcasting or carrying them on cable will just encourage them. Wait! The Town should require Verizon and Cablevision to provide a dedicated Town Board channel 24/7 - think of it - all politicos all the time! Oh, wait, we already have that with Channel 75, Channel 76 and Channel 77 (on cablevision). Well, at least the Supervisor can still control who and what gets on the cable. Think not? Remember the ill-served and equally ill-fated Citizens' Cable Advisory Committee which called for an independent authority to govern Greenburgh cable. Come on Mr. Sammis, this happened during the last 7 or 8 years - so you should remember it.

Anonymous said...

If the work sessions are televised and if the supervisor, council members or residents in attendance over-speak, let the residents decide who is wasting time. Meetings should be televised.

hal samis said...

Dear Pal,

I remember well because I sat in on the meetings (as did Francis Sheehan, Ella Preiser and Bill Greenawalt) and I remember why they broke up too: the Committee wanted to have an independent cable operation but under the control of the Supervisor and presumably the Town Council as it still took three votes even back then.

Jumping back to the present because that is where I live NOT in the past, I see that it is today possible that we can have the long overdue broadcast of the work sessions.

Unless you think that there won't be three votes in favor because their objection will be based upon events of seven years ago.

Is anyone ready to go forward or do bloggers only want to play their mix tape of oldies?

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an opportunity. Televise the work session and SELL COMMERCIALS to run during the interruptions caused by caucusing or the like. This is a WIN-WIN-WIN for the Town. No taxpayer dollars would be involved and no politican would be unheard and the money could be put into the A budget to further reduce taxes which make the villages unhappy. Another advantage would be the villages don't have to watch because they have their own agreements with Cablevision on which they collect franchise fees and those agreements could bar Cablevision from carrying pornography like Town Board work sessions.