It was a bill that made it through both chambers of the state legislature with no controversy — and not even a single no vote. Not from any Republican, not even in a committee.
Gov. Kathy Hochul didn’t even waste time signing this bill into law, doing so a few weeks before Thanksgiving.
The Assembly loved this bill. The state senate loved this bill. Gov. Hochul loved this bill so much, she attached her signature to it. Surely, this is a law everyone should embrace, right?
Everyone except our very own Community Board 8, it seems.
We’re talking about a law that requires government agencies — like CB8 — to post the minutes of each and every meeting online within 14 days of that meeting.
Before this law, community boards and other agencies were required to have minutes available within 14 days, but nothing compelled them to give it to you. Instead, if you wanted to see them, you had to ask.
Now, thanks to the efforts of lawmakers like Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Scarsdale and state Sen. Anna Kaplan of Long Island, you don’t have to ask. You should be able to click your mouse a few times, and have all the details of each government gathering that’s fit to print at your fingertips.
This has been the law of the land since November, but if you peruse CB8’s website this past weekend, it’s almost as if word hasn’t reached them yet they should be posting online.
The aging committee, for example, has posted agendas right up through last December. Yet, the last time minutes were posted was in May.
Health, hospitals and social services met eight times in 2021, according to posted agendas. But only two of those meetings have minutes you can peruse — the last one coming in April.
To be fair, there are some CB8 committees that are caught up like Nick Fazio’s economic development committee, and the executive committee — populated by all the committee chairs.
Others are mostly caught up, maybe a month or two behind. But that shouldn’t be the case at all. The law is clear: Post minutes online within 14 days. Hard stop.
Some of CB8’s minutes are getting distributed through its email list, which is nice — if you’re subscribed to it. But even if every household in the community board area was getting that email, it still doesn’t satisfy the law that breezed through both chambers, and was happily backed by our governor.
We’re sure we’d hear the same excuses as always when minutes aren’t available when they should be: the committee chair hasn’t submitted them yet. And we get it — you can’t have minutes if they are not submitted.
This, however, is where good leadership comes in. Laura Spalter, so far, has led a board with far fewer controversies than her predecessor. And she deserves credit for that.
But leadership also means ensuring the discussions and decisions made by committees and the board itself are available to everyone it affects. Albany has decided doing that means posting it online. So those minutes need to be completed, filed and posted.
It’s as simple as that, and it really should go without saying. Everyone loved this law. Now CB8 must love it, too.