Access Is Essential - 27 East

Letters

Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1816611

Access Is Essential

Given that Governor Kathy Hochul recently approved virtual access to public meetings in accordance with New York State’s Open Meetings Law, we urge the Village of Sag Harbor to immediately reinstate public board meetings via Zoom, or implement a participatory hybrid live/virtual format to ensure transparency.

According to the Open Meetings Law’s legislative intent, “It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens of this state be fully aware of and able to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy.”

Currently, the village convenes in-person meetings that are livestreamed via YouTube. The quality of the livestream is inferior, making it difficult to hear and view. Moreover, the public is unable to participate remotely.

Constituents and stakeholders who choose not to attend the in-person meetings due to the pandemic are precluded from watching the decision-making process, listening to debate and engaging with board members in real time, which was the impetus for the Open Meetings Law. The posted streams are likewise unintelligible, thereby frustrating the purpose of the law.

Sag Harbor is at a critical juncture, and citizen feedback is vital. It is incumbent upon the village to follow the lead of other East End governing bodies, such as the Town of East Hampton, East Hampton Town Trustees, Village of East Hampton and Town of Southampton, by providing participatory virtual access to all public meetings.

We hope this can be accomplished by the next village trustees’ meeting on October 12. Please let us know if financial support is needed. Save Sag Harbor is willing to help the village with this endeavor, as it is essential for our local democracy.

Hilary Loomis

Bob Weinstein

Barbara Roberts

Tom Clavin

Randolph Croxton

Myrna Davis

Sara Gage

Elizabeth Gilbert

Peter Ginna

Members, Board of Directors

Save Sag Harbor

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