Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Could you please speak up!

Several times the New Hartford Central School board has been advised that hearing the school board discussions on the videos is often impossible; particularly when Superintendent Nole speaks.

At the November 14, 2014 school board meeting, Board Member Flemma suggested that perhaps the district look into purchasing microphones. However, the rest of the board thought maybe changing the meeting room would help since board meetings held in other school buildings with smaller rooms seem to be audible.

However, Superintendent Nole felt that a change of room should be done at the annual reorganizational meeting held in July each year (see board minutes of November 4, 2014). Guess he feels never do today what you can put off for eight (8) months (maybe "that group" might forget about it by then!).

Well, the reorganizational meeting for 2015 took place on July 7, 2015 and not one single word about a change of venue. Basically, it would appear that the school board prefers that you don't hear what they are saying; perhaps because they don't want to embarrass themselves. Have you ever listened to some of their ignorant remarks...like Mr. Stephens demanding who are "those people"?

Seriously, several times it has been brought to the board's attention, that people ARE watching the videos and ARE unable to hear some of the discussions.

To those that have written to me asking what can be done, I would suggest that you show up at a school board meeting en masse to tell them that you do watch the videos.

Short of that, without an Act of Congress, I would guess that you will only hear parts of every meeting and quite frankly, that's the way the majority of board members and Superintendent Nole like it!

By the way, I have been told that every word at last night's school board meeting needs to be heard loud and clear. I am waiting for a copy of the video so I can post it online. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

According to Bob Freeman in his opinion OML-AO-o3292:
You asked initially whether there is any requirement that there be "a public address system
so that the public is able to hear the meeting and those speaking." With respect to the capacity to hear what is said at meetings, I direct your attention to §100 of the Open Meetings Law, its legislative declaration. That provision states that:

"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. The people must be able to remain informed if they are to retain control over those who are their public servants. It is the only climate under which the commonweal will prosper and enable the
governmental process to operate for the benefit of those who created it."

Based upon the foregoing, while there is no specific obligation to provide a public address system, it is clear in my view that public bodies must conduct meetings in a manner that guarantees the public the ability to "be fully aware of" and "listen to" the deliberative process. Further, I believe that every statute, including the Open Meetings Law, must be implemented in a manner that gives effect to its intent. In short, a board of education must in my view situate itself and conduct its meetings in a manner in which those in attendance can observe and hear the proceedings. To do otherwise would in my opinion be unreasonable and fail to comply with a basis requirement of the Open Meetings Law.

Can't be much clearer than that!