Activate the Cone of Silence!
This is one meeting you don't want to miss! Look at the items under Attorney Green. Five (5) out of six (6) items are for Executive Session.
A. Attorney GreenI can't wait to hear how the Town Board stretches the law to make these Executive Session items. According to the Open Meetings Law, there are only eight (8) reasons that a subject can be discussed in Executive Session and one of the reasons would not be so that the town board can keep residents in the dark! The Town Board needs to be mindful that according to an Opinion from Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government:1. Executive Session – Applewood Certorari
2. Executive Session – Preswick Glen
3. Executive Session – Assessor Appointment
4. Executive Session – DEC Consent Order
5. Executive Session – Town Office Space
6. Willowvale Fire Co., Inc.
More recently, the Appellate Division, Third Department, confirmed the advice rendered by the Committee and held that:In other words, according to Mr. Freeman's Opinion letter, the reasons given for a subject to be discussed in Executive Session should be descriptive enough so that "members of a public body and others in attendance would have the ability to know that there is a proper basis for entry into an executive session". Concerned Citizens for Honest & Open Government will be watching!
"...the public body must identify the subject matter to be discussed (See, Public Officers Law § 105 ), and it is apparent that this must be accomplished with some degree of particularity, i.e., merely reciting the statutory language is insufficient (see, Daily Gazette Co. v Town Bd., Town of Cobleskill, 111 Misc 2d 303, 304-305). Additionally, the topics discussed during the executive session must remain within the exceptions enumerated in the statute (see generally, Matter of Plattsburgh Publ. Co., Div. of Ottaway Newspapers v City of Plattsburgh, 185 AD2d §18), and these exceptions, in turn, 'must be narrowly scrutinized, lest the article's clear mandate be thwarted by thinly veiled references to the areas delineated thereunder' (Weatherwax v Town of Stony Point, 97 AD2d 840, 841, quoting Daily Gazette Co. v Town Bd., Town of Cobleskill, supra, at 304; see, Matter of Orange County Publs., Div. of Ottaway Newspapers v County of Orange, 120 AD2d 596, lv dismissed 68 NY 2d 807).
Oh, and don't miss item #1 under D. New Business - FOIL appeal. Yup, that would be our second FOIL appeal to obtain the 2007 Assessments. Even though the Town Board (except for Councilman Robert A. Payne, III) passed a resolution on July 11, 2007 to give us the 2007 Tentative Assessment Roll, the assessor and/or some member(s) of the town board thought they would pull a fast one and give us a copy of the 2006 assessment database instead of the 2007 Tentative and a 2006 Final Roll instead of the 2007 Final Roll. The assessor was even willing to certify in writing that the disk we were given contained 2007 assessments--course he left himself a "loophole" in his certification. I will be giving you a full report on this in a day or two--must be something pretty special that they are trying to hide!
It is hard to believe that to date not one person on the Town Board has even responded to our email of August 24, 2007 or even reacted to the fact that the assessor has not complied with a board resolution. Instead we are forced to prepare yet another appeal. Add to that the fact that the assessor will sign his name to a piece of paper certifying that the information is indeed 2007 assessments when we know for a fact that they are not 2007 assessments (and we have even provided the town board with proof that they are not)...it's absolutely incredulous!