Friday, August 01, 2008

COMMUNITY MEETING WITH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NY STATE COMMITTEE ON OPEN GOV SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER 10TH FROM 4 TO 6 PM

Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director of the NY State Committee on Open Government will speak at a special town meeting arranged by Town Clerk Judith Beville to answer questions from town officials and the public re: freedom of information law. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 10th from 4 PM to 6 PM at Greenburgh Town Hall. This special meeting (which will be televised – residents can also phone in at 993-1540) is being held because we want Greenburgh to be the most open government around. If there are disagreements between some residents and town officials re: the law – this will be a great opportunity to have an exchange of comments at a public meeting and to hear from the expert – Robert Freeman. We invite your participation and welcome your continued feedback regarding town issues. PAUL FEINER, Greenburgh Town Supervisor


The Committee on Open Government is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law, sections 84-90) and the Open Meetings Law (Public Officers Law, sections 100-111). The Freedom of Information Law governs rights of access to government records, while the Open Meetings Law concerns the conduct of meetings of public bodies and the right to attend those meetings. The committee also administers the Personal Privacy Protection Law.
The committee is composed of 11 members, 5 from government and 6 from the public. The five government members are the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, whose office acts as secretariat for the committee, the Commissioner of General Services, the Director of the Budget, and one elected local government official appointed by the Governor. Of the six public members, at least two must be or have been representatives of the news media.
The Freedom of Information Law directs the committee to furnish advice to agencies, the public and the news media, issue regulations and report its observations and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature annually. Similarly, under the Open Meetings Law, the committee issues advisory opinions, reviews the operation of the law and reports its findings and recommendations annually to the Legislature.
When questions arise under either the Freedom of Information Law or the Open Meetings Law, the committee can provide written or oral advice and attempt to resolve controversies in which rights may be unclear. Since its creation in 1974, nearly 20,000 written advisory opinions have been prepared by the committee at the request of government, the public and the news media. In addition, several thousand oral opinions have been provided by telephone.

42 comments:

town atty should attend said...

lets hope town assistant attorney mr fried attends - he seems to need a refresher course on open government as we found out in the library foundation matter when it called the police on mr samis.

cant wait to see the transcript of the call to the police, who made it, and under what authority.

in fact, why not invite the library foundation?

Anonymous said...

What does it take for the town officials to see that there' s something wrong with the way matters are handled here in Greenburgh.
Let's hope that the public could be heard by not giving them three to five min. to speak.
We want a good and honest government which is minus for some time.
No one seems to care what the public says or wants.
This meeting may be a good start to understand what has been lacking for sometime.

Anonymous said...

Paul, you can do no right from the bloggers.
Having Robert Freeman speak is a good idea. Shows your dedication to having an open government. Judith, thank you for arranging for this meeting.

Anonymous said...

Freeman had better be forewarned that Samis intends to monopolize the meeting,that the town board won't stop him from doing so, and that despite what other residents might want to ask, this meeting will be only about Samis and his perceived grievances. What a shame.

samis an antidote to mischief said...

what nonsense - the town board can limit comment to 3 or 5 minutes or request prior written questions.

one wonders why anon keeps attacking samis. but its really no wonder at all - samis is a force in town politics and a clear threat to sheehan and his sheehanigans.

Anonymous said...

Samis is no force in town politics. Only a handful of people know who he is. He is no threat to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Samis is no threat to anyone what he is a person who is interested in good government.
As all of you know the town has had many problems because they would not listen to many that have attended meetings and speaking their peace.
If Samis made the complaint he should be heard.
At least he is not afraid to speak up when things don't seem kosher.

Anonymous said...

Samis is a threat to anyone who wants to hear public opinion but get home at a decent time.

Anonymous said...

This will be such a drama-filled meeting! I think I'll leave work early that day just to enjoy the show.

hal samis said...

Boo!

ed krauss said...

If the Town Board really wanted a representative turnout, they should have called the meeting with Mr. Freeman for a time working people could attend...6:30-8:30.

But alas, their recent track record (he said as was trying to be kind) of having "work session/town board meetings" during the day, with an audience of Ella Preiser and a handful of town employees; voting on matters without benefit of audience comment; passing resolutions which start out with a lie in the heading and go down hill from there; taking a poll on whether a citizen can attend a public meeting, held in a taxpayer funded facility, by a group who pays nothing for the room, while the town incurs expenses for utilities, personnel,and unwarranted police (3 squad cars and one supervisor's SUV, 5 officers to "restrain one, yes ONE non-threatening citizen. This seems like a great criminals' plan to clear out a sector, burglrizes without fear of police. Have an accomplice attend a public meeting,have another one call the police and voila...crime wave) yet has the timerity to exclude a citzen because they are in "executive session" even though they have no right to even call an "executive session," are reason enough to call a 4PM meeting with Mr. Freeman.

This is
not OPEN GOVERNMENT! At best, this is GOVERNMENT ajar.

And giving "thanks" to Mr. Feiner and Ms. Beville is premature...at best.

P.S. The only one to monopolize this meeting should be Mr. Freeman not Mr. Feiner, Ms. Beville or anyone else. Freeman should be asked a question, he should give his answer and another Q&A should take place.

I wonder if the anonymouses will attend and be open with their criticism.

Nah. Wishful thinking on my part.

Anonymous said...

Will Mr. Freeman's remarks be limited to 3 minutes?

hal samis said...

Who wants to bet that Mr. Freeman is coming to tell us that there are unlimited speaking opportunities for public comment during Public Hearings?

Think about it. The Public Hearings on the Town budget are coming in the fall.

Anonymous said...

I think the idea that was touched on at one meeting of sharing time is a good idea. For example, 3 people sign in to speak at the meeting, 2 indicating that they are giving their time to one of them. Then Mr. Smith gets up and says I am speaking for myself and Ms. JOnes and Mr. Doe. Then Mr. Smith has a 9 minutes to present a coherent argurment, instead of 3 people presenting brief choppy arguements. And the meeting can stick to a schedule.

hal samis said...

Dear 8:08,

Like your idea. Don't leave it just here, send it to the Town Board.

However, what is Francis Sheehan follows suit and lectures even longer than usual?

He will say he is speaking for Diana Juettner and Kevin Morgan.

Anonymous said...

Hal,

The elected officials are entiled to talk. If you think you can do better, run for office.

Anonymous said...

Hal would do a better job believe me.

Anonymous said...

Then let him run

Republican Stalwart said...

Samis for Supervisor!
I pledge the maximum personal donation amount to his campaign!

Anonymous said...

But yet you dont want to sign your name.

Anonymous said...

Samis has been the voice of the silent majority for quite some time.
As for myself I have never taken the step to talk at any meeting so I have to take this blog to thank this man for trying many times over and over again to set things straight as far as taxes goes.
He has been right 100% as far as the library fiasco goes.
Will the board listen I doubt it.
We have a few citizens that have tried to enlighten the town board as to the goings on but no one wants to listen.
Samis speaks for many of us because he is not afriad to speak
regardless of whose feet he will step on.
Grazias

Anonymous said...

YAY for Samis! He helps us all be informed and keeps his eye on the ball!

Anonymous said...

Well tell me what will be accomplished at this meeting that has not been said by many citizens at town meetings and on this blog.
Why is the meeting being held when people are still at work.
I thought this was for open government.

Anonymous said...

People will be able to call in.

Anonymous said...

Big deal is this what you call open government.

Anonymous said...

Not just open government but "the most open government in the United States!" (See top of this page.) Yet the supervisor doesn't even participate in his own blog. That is strange.

Anonymous said...

Open Government my A$$! No one bothers to go to meeting any longer because if you have something to say, they cut you off after 3 minutes!!!!!

Open government = only when it suits them and only if there's a chance for publicity.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone bothered to read their Cablevision bill this month?
This meeting WILL NOT BE ON CABLE TV - nor will any other meeting after 9/9/08 - unless you have RENTED a card or digital box from Cablevision. They are removing Channels 75, 76, 77 and 78 from the free services.
Once again attention to detail and ongoing management are outside the grasp of the Hillside Stranglers - be they Paulist or Shehananigan.
The meeting on Open Government has deteriorated into yet another untelevised, unwitnessed and unavailable exercise in municipal masturbation.
Hope it makes you feel good - because the rest of us just feel raped.

Anonymous said...

We don't need cablevision to watch Town Board meetings on TV. We can watch the Board meetings on our computer. The Supervisor and Town Board voted to stream all meetings on the web.

Anonymous said...

I wish that Verizon TV was available in all parts of Unincorporated Greenburgh. When was their contract approved - one or two years ago? Our whole neighborhood has been looking forward to having cable-choice, still to no avail.

hal samis said...

Sorry to insert a harsh note of reality into the conversation but here is a blog topic about "coming to a Town near you, see and hear Bob Freeman live as he glances at his watch to leave promptly at 6:00

Mr. Freeman is the powerless Albany maven on open meetings law; however the special rules for conducting PUBLIC HEARINGS are not his bailiwick. What he is prepared to say is that the three minutes and the five minute periods are gifts from the Town Board to the public as they are under no obligation to allow public comment at Town Board meetings.

Other than tradition.

So be grateful.

While this does not address the aforementioned Public Hearings.

But I come before you not to bury the five Caesars but to praise them. Do Kevin Morgan and Diana Juettner monopolize the Town Board meeting? No, they speak not at all thus leaving more time for the public to speak. Do you not observe them meeting after meeting in this posture, Kevin staring straight ahead listening oh so intently and Diana Juettner doing her part to conserve energy by just...by just...by being Juettner.

But you did see that on the feast of Summer that the Town Board did embark upon a carefully orchestrated scheme to absent themselves from the public by removing Town Board meetings from their repetoire and thereby eliminating all public comment in any shape, size, forum or time. First by conducting whatever business had to be handled under the guise of SPECIAL TOWN BOARD Meetings held during the afternoon as adjuncts of their Work Sessions.
Public comment is not a feature of SPECIAL MEETINGS. Then we have the one Town Board meeting in July, scheduled for the week following the 4th of July, the best week at the beginning of summer to ensure low resident turnout.

But even without a better venue for public comment in July, the Town Board was worried that they might have to deal with the public in some manner. So, the next to go were today's Work Session cancelled and the Work Session of August 19 cancelled, because Greenburgh, at slot #80, can coast as there are no ongoing problems or matters needing attention. Like Ric says in Casablanca, we'll always have the August 27th Town Board to voice all those 3 minutes worth of comments stored up all summer. Well, this ain't gonna happen either Ric because, guess what, today the Town Board announced that the August Town Board meeting was also scurbbed. Even though it had been scheduled to take advantage of the Labor Day weekend it was bumping up against (the second most likely date to ensure low resident turnout unless you count the week of Labor Day itself but that would be September). And the Town Board has its own version of September Song already prepared. Just wait.

So, Mr. Freeman's appearance notwitstanding, if you can't beat 'em, then remove the ring.
Like the once vanishing buffalo, this new team pretends that the cause of open government is best preserved by building a government not only without walls but also without substance. Now you see em, now you don't. Always the red, never the black. Where is the Town government, not at Town Hall; they are hoofing it around the Town where the camera's. microphones and stenographer's don't roam. Out on the range where the buffalo can't be buffaloed. One on one with no permanent record. "Just the way they like it, uh huh uh huh. Do a little dance...uh huh uh huh..."

So Mr. Freeman, thanks for the memories but Open Meeting laws first need Meetings and like in Macbeth, the Town Board has murdered speech.

But remember, the Town Boards needs to find new ways to reduce taxes; who knows what diamond lies in the rough; a gem just waiting to be snatched up and bring that wall of higher taxes a tumblin' down. You can't get that sitting home at Town Hall can you?

Oh, one way to reduce next year's taxes is a little something the Town Board forgot to mention when they were voting July 22 on the Resolution to add $400,000 in grants to the Library project. $400,000 mind you that they only have $200,000 of in hand. You see, at a SPECIAL TOWN BOARD they don't allow Public Comment so what they kept from taxpayers was the small, itsy bitsy lie that they had fashioned to fool taxpayers, a lie they knew they couldn't be challenged because it would be "rude" for the public to shout out the truth. What the Town Board did was create this lie in the form of a Whereas clause which said that the Town had been advised that the grants could not be used to reduce the bonding of $19.9 million, a factor in rising taxes, $400,000 with 20-25 years of interest attached is a meaningful sum.

But the Library needs the money and therefore it was an act of kindness you say? How do you know the Library needs more money. The Town Board has never said that the project is over budget; all they want to do is increase the budget.

So back to the big lie. They said that the grants could not be used to reduce the bonding. Of course this would be contradictory to the opinion of the Town's independent Bond Counsel (taxpayers pay for these opinions) who said 'of course the grants can be used to reduce the bonding'. The Town Board and the Town Attorney Tim Lewis -- all knew this before they voted but why correct a dishonest Resolution which works so well for a Town Board that doesn't want to acknowledge problems at the Library. Mr. Feiner jumped ship to the Library cause just in time to appear at the eventual ribbon cutting ceremony. However, he boarded a sinking ship and will regret this time letting his political instincts override his greying matter. So Tim Lewis, an officer of the Court, sat silently in the corner eating his curds and whey and chose to allow a serious misrepresention remain in a legal document (the Resolution) did not remind the Town Board of their collective guilt in that they were sanctioning deceit. Remember WESTHELP, that Town Board voted to continue the funding; afterward they claimed ignorance of the illegality. Oh, you've seen that movie; so how do you like this year's summer rerun?

But not to worry, Sheehan says don't worry everything's cool. Let's see just how cool his renewable AC keeps him as the noose tightens around his neck.
Sheehan says: we need a bus ramp.
$175,000 later it is admitted we don't need a bus ramp.
Sheehan says: sewer guy go away, we'll settle with you another day.
The Town will indeed be settling.
Sheehan says: Keep Samis and Feiner away from the Dromore guy. We can work it out. Trial and depositions loom, Sheehan deposed and thereafter the despised despot is disposed of.
Sheehan says: Comprehensive Plan is required by law. Sheehan won't quote the law which says Comprehensive Plan not required by law.
Sheehan says: Town can't use State grants to reduce bonding. Sheehan says blame it on the brodskynova.

The list is growing.

But in the meanwhile hold this thought: after searching far and wide for the holy grail to reduce taxes, the Town Board had the answer in their hands because there's no place like home even though it is presided over by the Wizard of Fog. Use the $400,000 and accrued interest to reduce the bonding which increases taxes and that is the same result as reducing a lot of desired programs by $400,000 to lower taxes.

See the game really is five card monte: always the ired and never the blocked. Do you want to double up?

Again, since the public posturing of the Town Board is that the Library is not overbudget nor behind schedule, why are there still whispers and pleas for additional funding?

Maybe the person known as the Shadow knows. Because to some taxpayers it is an important issue.

Anonymous said...

WHO POCKETED SOME OF THE MONEY GOING TOWARD THE LIBRARY ???????????

whopping sheehanigans said...

hal - sheehan has told so many whoppers they rename the malted milk ball candy for him.

watch for developments on the hershey company website.

btw - whoppers taste good but have no nutritional value. sort of like sheehanigans.

correction on whoppers said...

correction - they may rename the whopper candy after sheehan.

Anonymous said...

I dont know of anyone pocketing money for library.

But what about the federal grants/ payments to GHA for police?

What about payments to TDYCC for roof/pool repairs?

Anonymous said...

The GHA will not pay back the money but they are still receiving the Private Greenburgh police patrol on the arm.
The center not only receives tax money but also recieves many grants but they have nothing to show where and how the money was used.
Very interesting.
We all know that the Fairview area as far as the town board goes is an untouchable area.
They can do what they want when they want and don't question them.
That's great at many taxpayers expense.

Anonymous said...

Paul tell me do you think your commissioners read these comments on the blog.
Something tells me that the answer is no because they do nothing to show the bloggers that they are trying to do their job.
The complaints are the same with no action being taken.

Anonymous said...

If the library is right on target as far as money and completion WHY is it that they are demanding more money.
Anyone can see that there is someting wrong with the picture.
Where has the money gone????
Who's the fat cat????????
This project was given to someone who was to oversee many other projects here in town and each one was a disaster.
Did you not learn that he knows nothing about construction.
You may think that this guy walks on water but boy are you mistaken big time.

diana disaster juettner said...

library disaster is spelled juettner, liason from the town board to the library.

thankfully juettner is leaving.

Anonymous said...

Juettner is the middle person in this library fiasco.
She swallows what she is told by the library board,trustees.and above all the construction manager.
We know that nothing is going according to plan but they keep telling her not to worry.
Well we like to blame her for all the mishaps but the truth is she is not knowledgable enough about construction.
The entire board should be blamed for this project. They should have gotten an outside manager to oversee the job but to save some money they got the worse person who has had many failures in past projects.
What ever he has done up to today has cost and will cost more money to the taxpayers through the years.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1:27 needs to get out more. If he takes a look at the library project, he'll see that it's almost complete. So where does he come off saying that "nothing has gone according to plan"? And nobody except Samis and Krauss have said the project is over budget. Look, the workers all gotta get paid, and if the town has run outta money, I think that's something the town board has to tell us. And so far, they haven't. So why assume that they're lying about it? Because Samis and Krauss say so? Yeah right.

Anonymous said...

Yes the project is finished on the outside. The shell only.
What is missing is the furnishings inside .The library board needs more money for furniture and other inside furnishings to try to make the place look half way decent.
Have you been allowed inside to see just what is missing?
Have you seen any work sessions where the library board is demanding more and more money?
Samis and Krauss have said right along that there was too much BS going on as far as the construction .
Again and again at different town meetings the same subjects were presented and the town was mute.
The manager also said that there was enough money so that the project will be finished fully and ready to open their doors for business in the month of September.
Tell me who is lying.
Samis and Krauss presented much data on what was wrong but the boards had nothing to back up their findings.
The manager was telling them what he thought that they would like to hear whether it was true or not.
And guess what they were all lied to.
So tell me who is the one that is misleading the residents.
Put the blame where it belongs on the library board and the manager.
Of course we all know who the manager is no need to keep mentioning his name.
He has worked for the town for many many years and he has lied in everything that he has done.