It was a strange sight: New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez and his deputy, Dan Torres, seated on either side of a laptop displaying the face of Julie Seyfert-Lillis, attending the July 13 special meeting via video conferencing software. The computer was bedecked with both microphone and name plate. The effort to get Seyfert-Lillis, who is presently in Wyoming, to attend was made because otherwise a quorum would not have been reached. As stated in the public notice, Seyfert-Lillis tuned in from the Park County public library in Cody, Wyoming, at the east gate of Yellowstone National Park.
Torres explained that the special meeting was called after last week’s meeting was cancelled at the last minute; Marty Irwin e-mailed his regrets less than half an hour prior. According to Torres’ account, neither Irwin nor Jeff Logan thought it was appropriate to hold a special meeting to conduct missed business, which is why they asked Seyfert-Lillis to attend in the same manner occasionally used for Ulster County legislative meetings. “Just because she’s away doesn’t mean she’s not doing work,” Torres said of his colleague.
Although it was a first for the New Paltz Town Council, the video-conferenced meeting largely went off without a hitch. Seyfert-Lillis’ connection did have a slight delay, and an executive session resulted in the computer with her face on the screen being physically moved to another room, but legally and logistically it was simply novelty that made it of interest.
This meeting also marked the first time, at least in recent years, that a consent agenda was included in the meeting. As used by village trustees, the consent agenda includes only non-controversial items which all members have indicated they will support, and which require no public discussion; the entire consent agenda is voted on as a single motion. Minutes, while commonly placed on this agenda portion, were approved separately.