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Minerva super responds to meetings law story

Guest Commentary

To the News Enterprise:

I read with interest the recent editorial and your article this week on the new Freedom of Information Law amendment that requires municipalities and other public entities to publish online all materials prior to their meetings. As someone who has worked diligently since February 2012 to comply with this law, I felt compelled to respond to a couple of points that have been made by Denton Publications.

First, a correction. The Meeting Packet published prior to our Town Board meeting does, in fact, include the minutes of the prior meeting. I have no idea if that bumps us from B to A, but it should be noted.

Second, complying with the law is not easy. In fact, at times, it has been really difficult for us. There are two reasons for that. The first is that publishing “meeting materials” if taken literally, is more than an agenda and minutes. At our Jan. 17 meeting, we considered four contracts, several letters, a dam inspection report, nine resolutions, and financial report materials that spanned 10-12 pages.

Fortunately, we purchased a photocopier last year that allows us to turn these multiple documents into an electronic pdf file which makes it a little easier to get the information published. Unfortunately, internet outages in Minerva are frequent. There was a period of about two weeks last year when we did not have Internet at our town hall at all except in fits and starts that weren’t long enough to allow us to load our meeting packet. At times, I have had to take our packet on a flash drive and emailed it to our webmaster from another location. When things are loaded on our website, we have often had complaints about the amount of time it takes to download the packet due to the internet service quality issues that our constituents share.

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