The Wednesday, April 28, meeting of the Bethlehem Town Board will be unusual in that the public has had easy access to the agenda attachments provided to Town Board members for several days now.
Councilman Mark Hennessey posted many of the attachments and memos on his Web site at www.markhennessey.com, with the files hosted through the Times Union Website's blog section.
While the town makes a posting of the agenda for each Town Board meeting on its own Web site, the actual resolutions and supporting memos are not accessible via that portal. They are available through the Town Clerk's office under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law.
Posting the attachments for the upcoming meeting online is an idea that has come up in the past and received general support from other board members, said Hennessey.
I've conceptually discussed this issue for a long time now, he said. "What I'm really looking for here is a healthy and fair discussion of the items that are coming before the Town Board."
Hennessey made the postings acting independently of the town as a "proof of concept," and to garner response, he said. He'd like to see the idea implemented on the town's own Web site. Two items were left out"the resume of a applicant for the job of chief accountant and a list of hirings in the Recreation Department"to avoid releasing personal information.
Supervisor Sam Messina said the posting took him by surprise and though he is supportive of open government and posting the documents, they should be released through the town's Web site in a standardized and legal manner. He said he asked Hennessey to remove the documents, as a town policy is not in place and any legal ramifications are not clear.
"In general, I think we should use the technology available to release as many records as possible to the public and to make them as accessible as possible," Messina said.