At the BOE meeting on Thursday, August 19, 2021, LWVS President Alissa Baum issued a Statement re Open Meetings Law on behalf of the LWVS Board urging the BOE to reconsider its decision to deny the public the opportunity to comment at meetings virtually. Among other points, the statement cited New York State’s Committee on Open Government which indicated that “the Open Meetings Law does not prohibit a public body from permitting invited guests (i.e., anyone who is not a member of the public body, but who has been asked to actively participate in the meeting) to speak or testify using a remote access platform.”
At the Scarsdale Public Library on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, LWVS President Alissa Baum spoke at a press conference to celebrate the recent passage of legislation (A.229c/S.5160b) which requires all counties in the state of New York to follow the same redistricting rules when drawing legislative districts. The legislation is expected to be signed into law by Governor Cuomo in the coming days.
Prior to the passage of this legislation, counties that operate under a charter (such as Westchester) did not have to follow the usual redistricting standards which required, among other things, that municipalities remain intact and not be divided into separate districts. As a result, in 1991, the town of Scarsdale was divided into two separate county legislative districts — diminishing the collective power of voters to elect a candidate focused on their specific community interests.
After a long-fought battle in the courts and then on the legislative floor, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, first through her work with the League of Women Voters and then as a member of the NY State Assembly, passed legislation amending county redistricting standards. From now on, county legislative districts must be drawn respecting municipal boundaries, and in such a manner that districts do not favor a particular party, are compact and contiguous, and do not deny the equal opportunity of racial or language minority groups to participate in the political process.
This law ensures a more just redistricting process for Scarsdale residents and all New Yorkers.
At the BOE meeting on Monday, June 21, 2021, LWVS President Alissa Baum issued a Statement re Open Meetings Law on behalf of the LWVS Board urging the BOE to revisit the issue of whether the BOE will allow virtual public comment after the expiration of the pandemic-related executive order suspending the in-person requirements of the Open Meetings Law.