A group of eight local community groups are calling for a town board resolution requiring all town boards and committees to post their agendas on the town website at least seven days before their meetings.
In a letter to the town board, leaders of the organizations complain that agendas are often not posted until just prior to meetings — or not at all.
“This squelches public participation in town affairs and is highly undemocratic,” according to the letter, which was signed by Larry Simms and Rose Sanders of Save Main Road, Bob DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, Angela DeVito, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, Phil Barbato, president of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, Neil Krupnick, president of the Northville Beach Civic Association, Bill Toedter, president of the North Fork Environmental Council and Andrew Benners, president of the Jamesport East Property Owners Association.
The letter was emailed to the board last night, when, as of 10 p.m. the agenda for today’s Riverhead Town Board meeting was still not posted on the town’s website.
“Rules for notice of public hearings tend to be scrupulously followed, but they only alert the public to the initial meeting. People who have shown interest in the process by appearing and testifying are effectively locked out of continuing discussions and deliberations by the board or agency involved, and often learn resolutions have been presented and voted on without having the opportunity to attend those meetings,” the groups state.
“We call on you to enact a resolution requiring that all public meetings — of every agency and committee — conduct only business included on an agenda posted on the town website at least seven days prior.”
Supervisor Sean Walter said this morning he agrees that agendas for all meetings should be posted in advance on the town’s website.
“I think seven days might be too long, but they should be posted at least two or three days in advance,” he said. Walter said he would support a town board resolution to require it.
“I believe in open government and have always advocated for it,” he said.
Nothing in the state Open Meetings Law requires the preparation or dissemination of agendas, but a public body on its own initiative may adopt rules or procedures concerning the preparation and use of agendas, according to Robert Freeman, executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government.
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