Councilman Ernie's NEW Feedback Blog

I will be introducing some subjects on this blog that I invite viewers to comment on. There is nothing "official" about this Blog. It reflects my own views and may also reflect the views of those who add comments which are very welcomed.It has been set up to give me some feedback on Town Topics and to provide an easy way for friends and constituents to let me know what's on their minds. Ernie Odierna, Councilman, Town of Mamaroneck

Sunday, September 13, 2009

It has been brought to my attention by various individuals over the years that they would appreciate the opportunity to view The Town Board Work Sessions as well as sessions of our Planning and Zoning Boards. Arguments for our doing this include the fact that "it's the people's business and they have a right to know what's going on." Objections raised by some suggest that "the glare of cameras will impede productive discussion and inhibit an open dialog between officials."

I personally am in favor of as much openness as is possible and sharing with the public, via LMC-TV , all Town Work Sessions and Commission/Committee Meetings as folks are willing to view. Our upcoming Budget Hearings are perfect examples of important discussions which will have an impact on all our citizens and only a handful of constituents will be in attendance. Is it because more of them just don't care, aren't available when we meet or just plain don't know about the hearings? As I have often said, "That's where the real discussions take place." When we actually vote on something it's pretty much a "done deal."

I would also like to figure out a way for our citizenry to communicate with us while we are in debate via e-mail or telephone. We would need to work out some "non-interruptive" method with time windows and or length of message restrictions. We might even need someone to help us make sense of the additional input. In my business (a Value Added Reseller in the Data Communications (IT) field,) we are often attending "Webinars" for training or sales presentations and as "the audience" we can ask questions, offer our comments and respond to simple "polling" questions. We should be able to do something like this on a Town Board basis.

Thoughts and suggestions welcomed.



At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Those who are not productive under the glare of the camera, and the eye of the people they represent, should serve the people in another way.

Representative government is of the people, not behind the people. Government representatives benefit from interaction with those they represent.

New York Law is based on a 'presumption of openness' in government; it does not simply require access by the people when such is convenient for the government.

Thank you for opening this important issue to discussion. I expect this commenter's opinion that 'we can do better' can be easily discerned from the above.

Ironically, the following resolution, sponsored by a Council member in the City of Rye, was recently distributed as part of that municipality's Council Agenda for Sept 16, 2009:

WHEREAS, All of the 'regular' public meetings of the Rye City Council have always
been televised on the Rye City government access cable television channel ('Rye TV')
since that practice was adopted, and
WHEREAS, There are frequently 'special' public meetings and 'workshop' public
meetings of the Rye City Council, which include discussions that are just as much in the
public interest as those discussions which take place at 'regular' public meetings of the
Rye City Council, and
WHEREAS, These 'special' and 'workshop' public meetings of the Rye City Council
have not been televised on Rye TV, and
WHEREAS, There have recently been 'special' and workshop” public meetings of the
Rye City Council at which important public issues have been addressed, but these
meetings have not been televised or recorded for public viewing, and
WHEREAS, the overwhelming majority of Rye City residents are unable to attend in
person the live public meetings of the Rye City Council, due to the demands of busy
family and professional lives, and thus rely upon either the live Rye TV broadcast or the
subsequent taped Rye TV broadcasts of the public meetings of the Rye City Council, in
order to obtain unfiltered information from the meetings, and
WHEREAS, the residents of the City of Rye deserve to have the opportunity to directly
know and observe what is happening at all public meetings of the Rye City Council, and
WHEREAS, It is the intention of the City of Rye and the Rye City Council to take
measures to promote and encourage public access to all open and public meetings of the
Rye City government, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, That henceforth all public meetings of the Rye City Council –
'regular', 'special', 'workshop' or otherwise – be televised live on Rye TV and be
recorded for subsequent rebroadcast on Rye TV, and for streaming on the Rye City
website, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That if in the sole determination of the Rye City
Manager the necessary Rye City staff is unavailable to broadcast these public meetings
on Rye TV, these public meetings will nonetheless be audiotaped by the Rye City Clerk,
and the audiotape will then be played back on Rye TV and posted on the Rye City
website, and will otherwise be available to the public for listening in the Rye City Clerk’s
office, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That Rye City staff will take the appropriate measures to
place a microphone(s) in the City Council chambers, so as to not disrupt the 'informal'
setting of some public meetings that are not conducted with Council members seated on
the dais.

At 12:27 AM, Blogger Ernie Odierna said...

The Town Board has decided to take up the subject of our televising our Work Sessions and possibly other Town Meetings at our next work session, scheduled for October 7th. Unfortunately it won't be "televised" so if you want to hear the arguments and see who is for it and who's against it, you'll have to be there yourself.


At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the benefit of those residents who would miss the 'untelevised' worksession, perhaps the members of the Board would be willing to share their opinions and how they expect to vote on this item, via comments in this forum now.

Common practice to ask government officials and candidates to tell their positions on issues. And an important question before our November elections.

At 9:41 PM, Anonymous David J. Fishman said...

I agree with Ernie that Town work sessions – where the majority of our polices and meaningful discussions occur – should be made available to as many constituents as possible.

The Town Board will discuss this issue at our next work session, currently scheduled for 5pm on October 7 at the Town Center. I encourage everyone to come to this meeting if they have any input or thoughts on this matter.

As we head into what is sure to be a difficult budget season, total transparency in the working of the Town and the affairs of the Town Council will be essential.


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