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Common Council violates Open Meeting Law

The Amsterdam Common Council met in executive session before Wednesday’s scheduled committee meetings in violation of the state Open Meetings Law.

Reporters arriving at City Hall to cover the Finance Committee meeting, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., found the Common Council chambers empty and heard discussions going on elsewhere in the building. Reporters were not permitted to enter the meeting and were told the discussion was “contractual.”

In the public meeting following the executive session, 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler shouldered the blame.

“I’ll take responsibility for violating the law,” she said.

Hatzenbuhler said she set up the meeting to discuss the city’s contract with Laura Elmendorf, concessionaire at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course.

According to the Open Meetings Law, public notice must be given at least three days before a scheduled meeting so the public and members of the news media can attend. The meetings of the finance, insurance and personnel committees were in compliance with the law, but no notice was given for the contractual discussion held beforehand.

The Open Meetings Law allows a public body, such as the Common Council, to hold an executive session for any of several specific reasons, including “the employment history of a particular individual.”

The law also states that a public body such as the Common Council must convene the meeting in public, vote to go into executive session and state the reason for doing so.

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About John Becker

John Becker is both a Reporter and Consulting Editor for The Compass. He and his wife Pat operate Abbey Farms in Amsterdam NY.

5 Responses to Common Council violates Open Meeting Law

  1. steve says:

    as far as the council calling the golf commission illegal and demanding resignations because of it is ridiculous. so in this case they should all have to resign in 10 days based on how they want to run things. its ok when they commit illegal acts but when another part allegedly is illegal they call for resignation. this is ridiculous.

  2. Thomas Coughlin says:

    If the Mayor did something like that, they would be all over her, in a heart beat !

  3. Rich Iwanski says:

    I find it curious that the Corporation Council Mr. DeCusatis was present at the Executive Session and apparently did nothing to stop what was clearly an illegal gathering ?

    • Tim Becker says:

      I don’t think the Corporation Counsel has any power to actually stop the council from taking a certain action. He certainly should have advised them, however.