Transparency in Village Government
The hallmarks of an effective government are not only the programs and policies it enacts, but equally important is the manner in which it conducts the public’s business. We believe that the village board has an affirmative obligation to do more than simply let the public know what decisions it has made. Throughout the entire process, each member of the Board must be committed to conducting public business publicly, rather than in secret and behind closed doors.
Sadly, this philosophy has been absent in our village in the recent past, and Greg Schmidt, Bob Anderson, and Ken Walsh pledge to reinstate it and to return village government to you, the people of Croton.
Croton United has already made progress towards this objective. After complaining repeatedly that televising village board work sessions is too expensive, the board relented under pressure from Croton United, and today, the public is able to view these meetings. And then, the board had the audacity to claim credit for this change that they had so strenuously opposed.
In the past, this board refused to publish many contracts in advance of their execution. Again, under pressure from Croton United, the most recent Village Manager’s contracts were posted prior to their adoption.
When we take office, we will keep you informed, in a timely manner, regarding the actions your village board is taking in your name. We will institute a policy of proactive disclosure of public documents. Not only will they be posted on the village web site well in advance of taking action on the related issues, but you will be informed of their availability in the event you wish to access them. We will also provide periodic public updates of the status of all significant issues affecting the village. Through the use of electronic media, this process can be implemented easily and efficiently and without the need for the village staff to expend a great deal of time.
This will both increase the transparency of our village government and dramatically reduce the level of resources – both village employee time and tax dollars – that the current administration spends responding to Freedom of Information Law requests. We endorse FOIL’s core principle that public documents are presumptively public, and we will end the current administration’s policy of responding to your FOIL requests with only the narrowest, most restrictive disclosures possible.
We believe that the members of the village board are elected by you to conduct the public’s business. You should be comfortable that your elected officials are acting in your best collective interest and you should not have to continuously monitor their performance, and their conduct, to ensure that your interests are being protected and that the highest ethical standards are being maintained.