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Pelham Locals Apathetic About New Transparency Law

PELHAM, N.Y. – A new bill signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will force the town governments throughout New York to post their agendas and minutes online at least 24 hours before a meeting. The minutes from their meetings must be posted within two weeks. But it seems that many Pelham locals are apathetic about the law.

The law, which will go into effect Feb. 2, was sponsored by state Assembly member Amy Paulin (D – District 88) and mandates that all records, resolutions and laws are made available to the public. If not, the citizens can take legal action against that public body.

Paulin stated the law would “enhance public participation and transparency” in order to “make the public confident in their government and to make the government better.”

The Village of Pelham Board of Trustees, Pelham Town Board and school board are subject to this bill.

However, local residents are adamant that the law will not change how they feel about the agendas and minutes.

While shopping at DeCicco's Food Market, Danielle Santiago said she wouldn't take advantage of looking at the posted agendas and minutes. “I’m not really interested in politics or what they do.”

Grace Jones would have looked online at the information, but that time has passed.

“If I was still working or had children, I would definitely do it,” said Jones. “I wouldn’t do it now because I’m not that involved in the school situation.”

Harry Engstrom, Pelham’s assistant court clerk, stated how the law does not affect Pelham or Pelham Manor because they already post those items online.

The agenda “is always posted a week in advance – I should say prior to the next meeting, sometimes it’s two weeks,” Engstrom said. “The minutes are always there. But then again, you put a lot of pressure on the clerk too. The clerk is in charge of the minutes. The assistant types them up.”

One resident said that she might read it, but with an important caveat.

“If it concerns me,” said Kit Potrafke with a laugh. “If it was of concern to a large amount of residents, then certainly I would have concerns with it. Not the little itty-bitty things that they dissect 500 times. It gets boring. All the discussion – it’s dissecting tiny little hairs.”

While the owner of Timeless Treasures said she would not check the minutes after every meeting, she is glad that they will be posted.

“I think it’s a good thing to have them available because it’s really hard to sit through one of those meetings so you can read the minutes and pass the part where it says, ‘ a discussion followed.’”

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