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How Town Government Works: Village of Pelham

PELHAM, N.Y. – Jamie Cabarrocas has lived in Pelham for two decades and attends as many village board meetings as he can. He has recently butted heads with the board regarding the debate about whether or not his street is public or private.

The Brookside Avenue resident has his issues with the village government, including a perceived level of deception. Though the board publishes its agenda days before each meeting, Cabarrocas said that the items can contain hidden elements.

"They cover up what they have up their sleeve to try and make it more palatable with oblique references to what they're really trying to accomplish," Cabarrocas said.

Village administrator Robert Yamuder said that the village government tries to exceed state law with regard to agenda. The village publishes the agenda at least 72 hours before the board of trustees meetings.

The administrator said that people can reach the government in numerous ways if they have questions about the agenda or want to add an item to it. They can email them, write to them or simply walk into village hall and ask.

Yamuder also said the village government tries to keep the language in the agendas as plain as possible.

"We're very careful about trying to tone it down, keep the legal-ease out of it, and make it easy to understand," Yamuder said. "The agenda itself is generally a sentence to say what the item is. We don't try to dupe anybody. That's bad government."

But Cabarrocas said those who influence the board should speak at the meetings to make the village government more transparent.

"The individuals who have their ear could be invited to speak at the meetings so that the general public could hear the swaying arguments," Cabarrocas said.

Still, the longtime Pelham resident said he understands that it is an unrewarding position to be on the board because of the time commitment and angry residents that trustees face on a regular basis.

"It is a thankless job and they put in the time and the years that they have," Cabarrocas said. "I guess in their heart of hearts or their perception they are doing the best thing that they can. I don't think they're being totally selfish. I think they do have Pelham's interest at heart."

Are you aware of how your town government works? Are agendas and meeting times clear to you? Comment below, on Facebook or Twitter @DailyPelham .

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