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Grand Island Town Board: New ground rules for workshop agenda established

Sat, Apr 7th 2018 07:05 am
By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
After having some heated arguments in the last two years about items on the meeting agenda, the Town Board argued Monday about who should even set the workshop agenda itself.
At a workshop meeting in the Town Hall conference room that preceded Monday's regular meeting, the council members decided, after some frank discussion, to send workshop agenda items to the town clerk through the town supervisor, rather than to just the town supervisor as had been past practice.
Councilman Mike Madigan said his proposal was meant to increase board transparency to the public and "to make it more consistent, to make sure that if a Town Board member wants something on the agenda that it does go on there, and, I think, just to kind of streamline it and make it more efficient." He complained that in the past some items he submitted to Supervisor Nate McMurray for discussion in the workshop never made it on to the agenda. Madigan said the board committed "to be transparent," and he wants items added to the agenda so the public would know in advance what the board would be discussing.
Regular meeting agenda items are sent directly to the town clerk. "As Town Board members, we are allowed to have anything added onto the (regular meeting) agenda that we want," Councilwoman Jennifer Baney said. "I don't think items for our less formal workshop should be vetted by a member of our board to determine if they should go on there or not. I think just as the five of us can put something on the formal agenda upstairs, I think all five of us are able to put stuff on the agenda for this."
Councilwoman Bev Kinney countered that some items for the workshop agenda were added as "a way to attack or showboat." McMurray said he was more than happy to put things on the agenda "to advance the purposes of the town, that are legitimate, that help us." He said, though, "the last two years, too frequently, agendas of all types have been used as some type of political soapbox or not really to do work of the town but as some type of prosecution of some sort, or some type of manipulation to either mislead the public or to not really provide transparency but just to use it as an attack piece."
McMurray went so far as to propose doing away with workshop meetings altogether and instead have long regular meetings instead.
"And I see this as another attempt just to ... whittle down the authority of the supervisor, which is not only going to affect me, it's will affect the supervisors after me," McMurray said.
Baney asked McMurray for "a fresh start," and the supervisor agreed that going forward he would accept the agenda items but then submit them all to the town clerk.

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