As New Paltz leaders shift back to holding remote meetings, those remote meetings have taken on a more focused air. Members of the public won’t be mugging for the camera, and chat is being restricted as well. These measures, taken to comply with the letter or the spirit of public meetings law, have been adopted for both Village and Town meetings in New Paltz.
Mayor Tim Rogers explained during the September 22 meeting of the Village’s trustees that elected officials shouldn’t be using chat to confer during a meeting, as that sort of sidebar conversation could violate state law. Posts in the chat box are also not captured as part of the video recorded of a meeting, and do not become part of the public record.
As for disabling of cameras except during public comment, Rogers said that this was a test. At the Town Council meeting the following night, Supervisor Neil Bettez went more into depth as to why the practice is being adopted for those meetings. “This is not your chance to be on camera,” Bettez said, pointing out that when meetings are conducted in-person, the camera is trained on the public officials, not the people in the audience. Limiting the use of cameras makes it easier for the elected officials to see one another, and anyone who is invited to speak — and turn on their camera for the duration.
There has been no indication about whether School Board meetings in the New Paltz district will be shifted to a remote format.