Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director of the NY State Committee on Open Government will speak at a special town meeting arranged by Town Clerk Judith Beville to answer questions from town officials and the public re: freedom of information law. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 10th from 4 PM to 6 PM at Greenburgh Town Hall. This special meeting (which will be televised – residents can also phone in at 993-1540) is being held because we want Greenburgh to be the most open government around. If there are disagreements between some residents and town officials re: the law – this will be a great opportunity to have an exchange of comments at a public meeting and to hear from the expert – Robert Freeman. We invite your participation and welcome your continued feedback regarding town issues. PAUL FEINER, Greenburgh Town Supervisor
The Committee on Open Government is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Freedom of Information Law (Public Officers Law, sections 84-90) and the Open Meetings Law (Public Officers Law, sections 100-111). The Freedom of Information Law governs rights of access to government records, while the Open Meetings Law concerns the conduct of meetings of public bodies and the right to attend those meetings. The committee also administers the Personal Privacy Protection Law.
The committee is composed of 11 members, 5 from government and 6 from the public. The five government members are the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary of State, whose office acts as secretariat for the committee, the Commissioner of General Services, the Director of the Budget, and one elected local government official appointed by the Governor. Of the six public members, at least two must be or have been representatives of the news media.
The Freedom of Information Law directs the committee to furnish advice to agencies, the public and the news media, issue regulations and report its observations and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature annually. Similarly, under the Open Meetings Law, the committee issues advisory opinions, reviews the operation of the law and reports its findings and recommendations annually to the Legislature.
When questions arise under either the Freedom of Information Law or the Open Meetings Law, the committee can provide written or oral advice and attempt to resolve controversies in which rights may be unclear. Since its creation in 1974, nearly 20,000 written advisory opinions have been prepared by the committee at the request of government, the public and the news media. In addition, several thousand oral opinions have been provided by telephone.
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