The Nassau County Legislature is finally joining the majority of Long Island town-level municipalities that archive video webcasts of their meetings online as well as their Suffolk counterparts in posting transcripts.
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) announced Wednesday that he filed a resolution directing the legislative clerk to post those records after learning that Rockville Center Democratic Club President Henry Boitel had been archiving the records on his website because the county doesn’t make the records proactively available.
“It is just irresponsible to point residents to a private party website to get public information,” Abrahams said in a news release. “It is the duty of the legislature to provide access to its own records.”
A spokeswoman for Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) said that Gonsalves has ordered the legislature’s clerk to post the videos and transcripts on the county website and that the panel does not need to vote for Abraham’s resolution to make it happen. The records are expected to be online within three days of meetings, although the videos will only be going up moving forward and the transcripts will only go back to 2001, not their full 18-year history.
The public can watch the meetings by logging on to the county website, following the link for the legislature and then clicking on the red link that appears on meeting days—dates that can also be found online. The twice-monthly meetings are often scheduled for Monday afternoons.
But, since the videos had not been archived, one of the few ways the public could review meetings—aside from attending in person or recording the webcast—was to file a Freedom of Information Law request for meeting transcripts taken by a stenographer. That could be cost prohibitive for some. At 25 cents per page, a 206-page transcript of the October 2013 legislative budget hearing on public safety cost $51.50, for example. Now, residents who can’t attend or watch the meetings live online won’t have to pay to review how their county representatives are spending their tax dollars.
Transcripts of Suffolk’s meetings are on that body’s website dating back more than a decade. The panel also archives its legislative webcasts, as do more than half of the 13 town governments on LI, including North Hempstead, Smithtown, Southold, Brookhaven, Southampton, East Hampton and Huntington.