Letters to the Editor

Open and Shut Out


I recently retired and decided that now I had time to become more aware and involved in Yorktown Heights proceedings.

I started to attend town board meetings and even applied to volunteer on town committees. It’s been quite an experience hearing about some of our issues and opportunities.

Each month there are four meetings. Two are televised meetings and two are non-televised work sessions. The public is invited to all of these meetings.

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The Feb. 14 meeting was a work session and the town board and other meeting participants sat around a conference table on the stage. The public sits facing the stage.

For reasons I don’t understand, Town Supervisor Michael Grace has decided that there would be no microphones and speakers during work sessions, so if someone is speaking in a soft voice, the audience may not be able to hear what is being said. This was the case on Valentine’s Day.

Several of us moved our chairs as close as possible to the stage. One lady said she has a hearing disability and asked if they could turn on the microphones. Supervisor Grace said “No!” She asked if she could sit in a free area on the stage and again Supervisor Grace said “No!” When asked why not, he stated that those were his rules!

During the meeting, I used my smartphone to find New York State rules on town open sessions and found this: “Public bodies shall make or cause to be made all reasonable efforts to ensure that meetings are held in facilities that permit barrier-free physical access to the physically handicapped…”

Now, I’m not a lawyer, and there may be more to these rules, but turning on an existing microphone for the benefit of the public is not a difficult request!

Not doing it is disgraceful!

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