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Tyrone meeting doesn't comply with state law

    TYRONE—The New York State Committee on Open Government says the town of Tyrone is not complying with the open meeting law by not allowing the public to attend gatherings being held just prior to the regular meetings.
    Watkins Glen resident Alan Hurley said he wanted minutes and other documents from these meetings during the Tuesday, Oct. 9, Tyrone board meeting.  He referred to the official July meeting minutes where an audience member inquired about the town board gathering just prior to the regular meeting. In the minutes, “it was explained that this is not a meeting, but just an opportunity for the Board to gather and go through all the monthly reports, abstracts, minutes, etc... without the distractions of people arriving early, so they are prepared to make motions once the Open meeting commences.”
    At the Oct. 9 meeting, Tyrone Supervisor Gary Jackson explained these gatherings are just a chance for the board to review financial documents and “look at things, where things go.”  When Hurley asked to attend one of these meetings in the future, Jackson said Hurley can “listen through the window” or that “we’ll (the board) record it for you.”
    When the scenario was explained to the Committee on Open Government, Director Robert Freeman said it “is clearly subject to the open meeting law.”
    Assistant Director Camille Jobin-Davis explained, “as long as a quorum is present they are subject to the open meeting law.”  “The public should be permitted to attend when a quorum is present and they are discussing business,” she added.
    According to the Committee on Open Government, “any time a quorum of a public body gathers for the purpose of discussing public business, the meeting must be convened open to the public, whether or not there is an intent to take action.”  Jobin-Davis added “if all (board members) indicate how they are going to vote, it is considered an official vote.”  She also said if the board wanted to enter into executive session for allowable discussion, the board would first need to convene regularly to vote on executive session.
    Jobin-Davis explained the recourse for the public is to bring the matter to the public’s attention or to take legal action.  She said the court can decide to award payment of legal costs to the winning party or overturn any decision made during a noncompliant meeting.
    Jackson would not return several phone calls by press time.






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