On Wednesday, June 3, a WLS Trustee Institute was held at the Greenburgh Public Library entitled, Everything you always wanted to know about Open Meetings Law (but were afraid to ask) with Robert J. (Bob) Freeman, Executive Director of New York State’s Committee on Open Government. Mr. Freeman—Bob—has been with the agency since its creation, and he came willing and able to answer all questions on the subject – and he did!
Here are some of the questions that were answered:
- What is a meeting?
- What needs to be included in minutes?
- What is Executive Session?
- What is a public record?
- Does everything have to be disclosed for a FOIL request?
The Committee on Open Government’s website is also a great resource. Not only does it have videos of Bob answering the questions above and many others; but it also has an index where you can look up advisory opinions on Open Meetings Law and FOIL by key phrase. Yet the best resource of all is Bob himself. As those who attended the event know, his passion regarding this subject is palpable, and his knowledge and understanding of the spirit of the law is impressive. He’s written over 25,000 advisory opinions!
In the days following the event, I realize what a special privilege it is to have a State (New York is one of the few) who recognizes the need for Open Government (in the general sense) and its uniqueness to our Country. With privilege, though, comes responsibility; and I am also realizing the extraordinary responsibility taken on by the library trustees in our County. Trustees volunteer their time and talents not only to ensure that the resources of their own libraries are being used efficiently towards the library’s goals, but they are the ones who must keep the bigger picture in sight to ensure Open Government and fairness for all in their communities. I would like to thank the over 300 library trustees in Westchester for their commitment to this unique and vital cause.