Reporter Ashley Onyon was among those honored for their contributions to open government recently during the New York Coalition for Open Government’s annual meeting.
Onyon and the Alliance for Florida Farmland were recognized for spotlighting public concerns about officials in the town of Florida, particularly the Planning Board, over its practice of excluding the public from presentations and discussions regarding certain projects.
The criticism involved developers presenting displays and holding discussions with board members with their backs turned away from the citizens in the audience, making it difficult or impossible for the people to hear and view the presentations and to hear the discussions between the developer and the board members.
Under the state Open Meetings Law, Section 103-d, government boards are required “to ensure that members of the public body can be heard, seen and identified, while the meeting is being conducted, including but not limited to any motions, proposals, resolutions, and any other matter formally discussed or voted upon.”
The Alliance for Florida Farmland, consisting of citizens opposed to large industrial development in the town, raised objections to the board’s practice, and Onyon reported on the group in The Recorder.
Daily Gazette Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney was the keynote speaker for the meeting, which was held via Zoom.