April 23, 2020
Colonie Town Board Violated Open Meetings Law
The Government Justice Center sent a letter to the Colonie Town Supervisor yesterday advising the Town Board to both livestream and record their town meetings in compliance with state Open Meetings Law after the Board failed to do so earlier this month.
The Town Board carried on with a meeting on April 9th it could not make accessible to the public by video or audio due to a power outage.
“The meeting should have been postponed to another date when the Town Board learned it could not provide public access,” said Cam Macdonald, Executive Director of the Government Justice Center.
During the meeting the Board approved a resolution without holding a public hearing in violation of the Town Law. Prior to the meeting the Town Board held an agenda session without public access that it did not record.
The Court of Appeals ruled over forty years ago that the Open Meetings Law requires public access to agenda sessions. The letter further explains that Executive Order 202.1 expanded the Open Meetings Law to mandate that meetings must be made available by video or audio and must also be recorded and later transcribed.
The Government Justice Center, writing on behalf of citizens group SAVE Colonie, warns that any decisions made at meetings that do not abide by these rules can be voided in a court of law.
“In this time of uncertainty it is crucial for the public to have complete access to the government’s decision making processes,” said Macdonald. “These blatant violations of Open Meetings Law and the Governor’s Executive Order are unacceptable.”