Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wellsville Town Board debates issue of executive session

The Wellsville Town Board had a brief, tense moment Wednesday afternoon. The issue was whether the Board could legally go into an executive session. Those sessions are held behind closed doors and out of the public view. In New York, there are strict rules about what can be discussed in executive session.
Town Councilman Jon Gardner wanted an executive session to discuss a "legal" matter, but town supervisor Don LaForge said that was too vague a request and not allowed. Gardner wanted to discuss legal options with Walmart but LaForge said "we lost the lawsuit...the litigation is over" LaForge said he had read the law and what Gardner wanted to discuss was illegal.
Gardner wanted to discuss an appeal option, but LaForge still resisted. Council member Shad Alsworth told LaForge "we have a different interpretation." The debate continued a while longer when everyone agreed that town attorney Mike Finn needed to be consulted (Mike, get ready for a call Friday morning)!
According to the New York State, Department of State, Committee on Open Government:
§105. Conduct of executive sessions.
1. Upon a majority vote of its total membership, taken in an open meeting pursuant to a motion identifying the general area or areas of the subject or subjects to be considered, a public body may conduct an executive session for the below enumerated purposes only, provided, however, that no action by formal vote shall be taken to appropriate public moneys:
a. matters which will imperil the public safety if disclosed;
b. any matter which may disclose the identity of a law enforcement agent or informer;
c. information relating to current or future investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense which would imperil effective law enforcement if disclosed;
d. discussions regarding proposed, pending or current litigation;
e. collective negotiations pursuant to article fourteen of the civil service law;
f. the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation;
g. the preparation, grading or administration of examinations; and
h. the proposed acquisition, sale or lease of real property or the proposed acquisition of securities, or sale or exchange of securities held by such public body, but only when publicity would substantially affect the value thereof.
2. Attendance at an executive session shall be permitted to any member of the public body and any other persons authorized by the public body.