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State Law Bashed Over Public Comment

EDITOR’S NOTE — This article has been updated with corrections.

The New York Coalition for Open Government is again criticizing Albany over its weak Open Meetings Law, slamming it for not including any provisions on public speaking at meetings.

A report the coalition issued last week noted that town governments technically don’t have to let the public speak at their meetings. In fact, some 22% of town governments across the state do not, according to the report. That’s 177 of New York state’s 621 towns.

That report targeted the county towns of Busti, Charlotte, Cherry Creek, Clymer, Kiantone, Sherman and Villenova. However, all those towns through a joint letter said public comment is allowed.

New York should join 13 other states in mandating public speaking time at local government meetings, the report concluded. It had some other recommendations:

¯ Public comment time should occur at the start of meetings before board members vote on anything.

¯ People should be allowed to speak for at least three minutes during such comment times.

¯ People should be allowed to speak on any items, even if they are not on the meeting agenda.

¯ There should be no requirement to register for speaking at a meeting prior to its occurrence.

¯ Meeting minutes should reflect comments from the public.

More information about the coalition can be found at https://nyopengov.org/

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