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Clarkson urges IDA webcast

Supervisor says move would promote disclosure and productivity

— Bethlehem Supervisor John Clarkson and other members of the town board are once again encouraging Bethlehem Industrial Development Agency members to webcast their meetings for reasons of transparency and efficiency.

Clarkson attended the IDA meeting held on Friday, July 26, to ask members to reconsider their previous decision to not webcast their meetings. At the time, the agency had opted against using the town’s online video capabilities because members were concerned it would limit open discussion.

“I think this is about more than ramping-up disclosure and transparency, it’s also a productivity tool,” said Clarkson.

The supervisor said the town’s Meeting Portal has been extremely useful to town staff and board members over the past year and a half. The system has made it easy for town officials and residents to find information from previous meetings, re-watch meetings they may have missed and become informed about past town issues.

However, Clarkson said, they have been notified the town is using the system more than originally planned. If the IDA were to agree to webcast meeting, the company overseeing the system may ask for a $3,000 fee in order to provide more storage space.

IDA Assistant Executive Director Tom Connolly said that’s why the agency has its own website and all information is posted and disclosed appropriately, according to state law.

The IDA’s Governance Committee plans to meet in August to discuss the issue more thoroughly. Committee Chairman Sam NeJame said members are researching to see how other area IDAs with webcasting capability use the technology before moving forward.

Clarkson said he believes the Bethlehem IDA is a model agency, and it would be to their credit to put their good work out there for all to see.

“That said, if we based our decision on what other town boards did, I don’t know if we would be disclosing as much as we are now,” said Clarkson. “I don’t know of another town board that posts all of its agenda online well in advance of the meeting, webcasts the meeting, and then keeps it online forever, as far as I know.”

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