To the Editor:
Democracy is suffering some consequential hits during this pandemic. Here in Colonie, COVID restrictions make it more difficult than ever for people to know what our government is doing. Sunshine is out the window.
Little actual business or discussion of issues takes place at Town of Colonie Board meetings; pre-COVID, Town business was discussed upstairs in the “agenda session,” where the conference room is small and comments from the public are disallowed, though transcripts of agenda sessions and Town Board meetings were available.
Since the pandemic began, even agenda sessions have been infrequent, and since December 2020, there has been only one such agenda session. Residents are wondering where, when, and how the Town Board actually does the town’s business. Where are matters discussed? Do they confer via email or ZOOM? Over the phone? Are all parties involved or just the party in power? There are no transcripts to consult to verify board actions, and the minutes that now replace transcripts are singularly useless.
Colonie does live stream and video Town Board meetings but unfortunately the camera is positioned so far from the speakers that the viewer cannot discern who is speaking and conversation is inaudible. Compared to how other communities do this, Colonie is an embarrassment.
The methods the Town of Colonie has chosen to do its business violate the spirit of the state Open Meetings Law and the most basic tenets of democratic government. We call upon our local leaders to institute reforms to address these failings immediately.
Susan Quine Laurilliard
for SAVE Colonie: A Partnership for Planning