Sunday, April 29, 2018

Doing Business in the Public Eye

Being accountable to town residents requires openness and transparency. It is not merely a matter of meeting the letter of the law on open meetings. It is about conducting the business of the town in the public eye and in a way that provides residents meaningful opportunities to question and provide input on the Board's work.

I spent the first few months of my term learning the Board's rules of procedures and getting a feel for the meetings from my new vantage point at the front of the room. With that foundation under my feet, in April I began advocating for changes to make our meetings more accessible to residents. 

The first three changes I am advocating for are:

  1. The supporting documents that the Board members are viewing during the meeting should be projected during the meetings so members of the public can see them. This is a procedure that is used during Design Review & Historic Preservation Board meetings and Zoning Board of Appeals meetings. Although the documents are available on the town website prior to the Board meetings, having them projected will increase accessibility and transparency and can also facilitate clearer communication and discussion.
  2. Those supporting documents should be archived with the minutes. Currently, the documents are removed from the town website following the meeting. Some pieces, such as the text of resolutions, are included in the minutes. However, many documents are not and, consequently, disappear from the public view.
  3. Agendas and minutes for the Parks and Recreation Board and the Environmental Board should be archived on the town website along with the other voluntary boards. These are important boards that serve the public's interest. For residents (and Board members and staff) who want to keep up on the work of those boards, having them available online provides the greatest access. 
Pittsford is strongest when its residents provide input, ideas, and new perspectives. For that to happen, the Board must ensure our meetings facilitate community engagement. 

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