Saratoga Springs officials are holding a public hearing on Wednesday night to gather the public's views on the proposed expansion of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway, the racino.
But the hearing will be pointless if those people don't have all the information they need about the proposed expansion project and the city's role in evaluating it.
Some project opponents have accused the city of violating the state's open government laws by withholding certain documents regarding the project. They say these documents should be available to the public under a requirement that documents slated to be discussed at a public meeting must be disclosed beforehand.
But Deputy Mayor Joe Ogden said Monday the city disagrees that information has been withheld. He said it has made documents related to the racino expansion available to the public, either online or for viewing at City Hall.
Since all documents these days are prepared electronically or can be copied and turned into electronic documents, there's no reason that any public information the city has in its hands can't be posted online.
The citizens are also challenging the city's assertion that it cannot assume lead-agency status over the project. They cite a letter from the state Gaming Commission inviting the city to address its potential jurisdiction in the matter. The issue of jurisdiction is expected to come up at tonight's City Council meeting. The letter is now in a prominent place on the city’s website.
Regardless of what the city's position ultimately ends up being on the racino expansion, it owes its citizens complete disclosure of all information related to it, including justification of its decisions.
The interests of the entire city are best served when all the cards are on the table.