As a place to start this discussion Hal mentioned last night that I would try to work with the group to help us get better organized. I have always told Hal, and others, that I am willing to do that. But here’s what everyone needs to know… (1) I have no experience with local government and politics. While I am more than willing to help I see the overall effort as a group effort. I will need a LOT of help, ideas, suggestions, comments and criticisms from everyone. (2) I want to be a facilitator not a leader. I think the group functions best by going in whatever direction the group sees itself going. I think this point has been true from the very first meeting and I do not want that to ever change. As a practical matter what I think this means is the group exists to foster open communication and information sharing.
Suggestions/Recommendations/Thoughts/Comments and Discussion Points for Our Next Meeting:
1.) Rename the group. We started as Hal’s vision for taking action. In the best traditions of American town hall meetings we shared our thoughts and desires around the group. The Tea Party label means different things to different people and does not best represent how the group has evolved. The suggestion is to re-name the group CARE (Citizens in Action for a Responsible East Greenbush) or something along these lines.
2.) I think the overall flavor, tone and content of the meetings is comfortable for everyone and should continue. It is essentially an open forum for discussion and that should continue. I think our plans and actions should be decided either by general consensus or by decisions individuals decide to pursue on their own.
3.) We need to identify an alternative meeting place as quickly as possible. All ideas and suggestions are welcome and appreciated.
4.) In the past we discussed having someone attend the various EG meetings. That idea has not really grown “legs” and I, for one, am not sure we need to extend ourselves that far. I think for the foreseeable future we should limit our focus to the Town Board meetings and perhaps the School Board budgeting process. I am just not sure how much value we would get from participating and attending Planning Board and other meetings except on an exception basis when we define a specific reason to. None of that should discourage anyone who wants to attend any other meetings from doing so but I think we can and should focus the group’s work where it most needs to be - and for the moment that is with the Town Council.
5.) I, personally, am okay, as we discussed at our May 3 meeting, with a group generated petition type letter to the State Attorney General’s office and the Office of the State Controller. My only caveat is that we need to be as specifically factual as possible. Making public accusations needs the care that such a step requires.
6.) I think every meeting needs to have the following:
a. A report about the Finance Committee.
b. A planning discussion for what we will question or discuss at the upcoming Town Board meeting.
c. I would like to see us collect the various Department Head reports in advance of the Town Hall meetings and be able to share those so that people who attend do not have to put up with the “Nothing additional to report” verbal comments at each Town Hall meeting. I think if we do that we can lead the Supervisor to taking this step on his own. Is that possible or realistic?
d. I would like Ann to express herself on how viable an idea it is to get a monthly budget report through the Finance Committee if we are not able to influence the Supervisor to include a budget report on the agenda. Is that possible or realistic?
e. A report on the status of any Freedom of Information Act requests we have filed and a discussion of the next Freedom of Information Act requests we plan to file.
f. A report from the pre Board and most recent Town Board meetings.
7.) Every meeting needs to have a report posted to the group so that people who could not attend can stay in touch. I will do that to start but I would really like to see this responsibility shared.
8.) I think we need to think about, discuss and decide how to fund our work. I think the people who are making Freedom of Information Act requests on behalf of our group should not fund those out of their own pockets. I think, if the group grows and expands, that we will have additional future expenses for copies and things like that. There are different options around funding and I think we need to discuss those at our next meeting.
9.) I think we need a web site. I think a web site has distinct advantages over blogs. Can someone with any experience in putting a web site up share at our next meeting what is involved and what the expense might be?
10.) In terms of longer term planning and activities:
a. I like the idea of an alternative Town Hall meeting. If the group supports the idea we need to figure out: (1) How to do that? (2) Where? (3) How to announce and advertise it? (4) An agenda? (5) Media coverage? (5) What other Freedom of Information Act requests do we need/want to file and by when?
b. I like the idea of sponsoring or supporting candidate debates as November approaches. Assuming the group supports the idea we need to decide when we need to start planning. November will get here quickly so whoever wants to be the leader on this needs to get us organized fairly quickly.
Time To Move On....by Ann Taylor
4 years ago