This past March the USA TODAY newspaper published the results of an audit of county government websites in New York State to see how transparent they are in conducting business. Sadly, Chenango County scored near the bottom. Among Chenango Countyís most egregious deficiencies is its continuing unwillingness to make meeting agendas available to the public prior to meetings. This issue would seem to have been resolved when the state enacted a law in 2012 requiring matters before county governments to be posted on their websites prior to meetings. Unfortunately, our Board of Supervisors opted for a loophole in the law by claiming that informing the public in advance of meetings would be impractical and too costly. However, there doesnít seem to be much evidence for that position.
A second glaring deficiency in the practice of our county government is its unwillingness to allow a period for public comment during meetings. This is really a matter of common courtesy that most local governments throughout the state provide. Itís a way for the public to let elected officials know whatís on our minds and of concern. Itís a shame we donít have that opportunity with the Chenango County Board of Supervisors.
Therefore, I hope those who are concerned about open government will join with me in urging the Board of Supervisors to adopt a policy making agendas available at least one day in advance of meetings and to designate a public comment period during meetings. This is a non-partisan issue, and it should be taken up as a cause by individuals and groups from left, right and center.
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