Date: Mon, 09 Nov 2020 15:17:27 -0500 [15:17:27 EST]
From: James McMartin Long <James@JamesLong.com>
To: Scott Horton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Scott Horton <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>, Briana O’Hara <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Jack Glenn <Jglennmd@gmail.com>, Donald Travis <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Notice pusuant to Open Meetings Law and Executive Orders 202.1 and 202.15
Dear Supervisor Horton,
First, I want you to know that I am fully aware that the Caroga Town Board voted to discontinue virtual (Zoom) meetings on November 4, 2020. That is not the reason for my writing. Town Attorney Sal Ferlazzo reminded me last spring that the Town Board could vote to abridge First or Second Amendment rights and, unless challenged in court, those board actions would stand. Or, as an emeritus professor of law likes to remind me: “the law is not self-actualizing”.
I am instead writing to remind you of provisions of Public Officers Law, Article 7, Open Meetings Law as modified by the Governor’s Executive Orders 202.1 and 202.15, and further extended through December 3, 2020 by 202.72. This area of law along with the Executive Orders is helpfully discussed in a Webinar held by the New York State Department of State earlier this year and made available as a YouTube video:
One salient point made during this Webinar is that a town board member temporarily down in Florida at an apartment building, could participate in town board proceedings if that member called from the apartment building’s lobby and if that lobby could be considered a public space where the public could observe that town board member. Normal notification rules for the meeting would also need to be met. The various Executive Orders made that process far easier: the town board member need not disclose his or her location and that location need not be public.
I am hereby putting you on notice that I will be calling in to participate as a Public Officer (Town Board member of the Town of Caroga) via telephone into the Town Board meeting scheduled for November 10, 2020 at 7:00 pm eastern standard time. I am also notifying you of my intent to continue to do so for future Caroga Town Board meetings until such time as the pertinent Executive Orders are no longer in effect or unless the Town Board resumes virtual meetings. While I do not believe I need to give you a reason, you probably already know I have had some serious medical issues this year and the comorbidity risk for COVID-19 is simply too high for me. You and I know a telephone cord and speakerphone can be placed suitably in either the gym or in the meeting room. If, however, you would rather not do that for tomorrow, I won’t mind calling your iPhone instead and you can put me on speakerphone on your iPhone. Just tell me your preference. I am not sure the attendees will be able to hear me that way, but you and at least most of the Caroga Town Board should be able to hear me. I did not see anything on the draft agenda I received Saturday that would make this meeting either long or contentious.
James McMartin Long
Town Board Member
Town of Caroga
Vice-Chair, Board of Directors
Protect the Adirondacks
James Long Company
Copyright © James McMartin Long 2017–2022