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Bethlehem Town Board agenda attachments a topic again

Councilman drafts proposal to govern the release of meeting documents

Bethlehem Councilman Mark Hennessey has drafted a proposal for the standardized release of Town Board meeting attachments to the public prior to meetings, in a move he hopes will advance dialogue over the issue.

Hennessey's proposal stipulates the town clerk would make determinations regarding the release of agenda attachments, with exemptions made for personal information, trade secrets, contract information and law enforcement information.

What we're trying to do here is take a very moderate approach to trying to put together a policy, Hennessey said. "It's an idea whose time has come. It's good to have a structure to things."

Before each Town Board meeting, board members receive via e-mail, memos and other pertinent information from town staff regarding the items on that meeting's agenda.

Hennessey has said he'd like to see the public have early access to that information, as well, and in late April he released them for one meeting himself through his Web site.

Under his new proposal, the supervisor"who is responsible for setting meeting agendas"would complete and distribute the agenda and attachments a full week before the upcoming meeting. The town clerk would post all non-exempt documents on the town's Web site five days before the meeting.

The proposal also suggests a summary of all votes made by the Town Board and a database of town employee salaries be maintained on the town's Web site.

Supervisor Sam Messina said the proposal was a topic of discussion during a meeting Thursday, June 3, with various town employees, including Town Clerk Nanci Moquin and Town Attorney James Potter. Hennessey was invited but was not in attendance, Messina said.

"We looked at this, and our feeling was it's a work in progress, we're going to give it more study and thought," Messina said. "It's a nice start, and we appreciate it."

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