A Call for a More Open Government

Kathryn Casey Quigley, Southold Town Democratic Committee Chair
The Suffolk Times

The following "Letter to the Editor" was published in the Suffolk Times Newspaper on February 1, 2018:

At the January 16th Town Board meeting, I stood before Supervisor Russell and the Town Board to recommend they take a closer look at the level of transparency, accessibility and openness in town government. I raised two specific examples: (1) I commended that Town Board meetings are webcast, and suggested that zoning, planning and work sessions be webcast as well, as these meetings are where many important decisions occur. (2) When Committees have vacancies, there should be a clear and transparent process for posting them in the most accessible ways possible, so that as many constituents as possible are aware of the openings. Recently, openings were posted on a Town Board member’s personal Facebook page, yet can still not even be found on the homepage of the town’s website.

To be clear, my recommendation was not to imply that Democrats are not represented on these Committees. My concern is not about partisanship; rather, it’s about accountability. Supervisor Russell mentioned in a subsequent statement that filling these vacancies is difficult. That very fact should precipitate a reflection on the Town’s own practices, begging the question: How do we better reach qualified applicants for these vacancies?

Simply, it is the responsibility of our elected leaders to take adequate steps to make government accessible to as many people as possible. And I believe the Southold Town Board must do better.

Kathryn Casey Quigley
Southold Town Democratic Committee Chair