Governor Hochul Extends Virtual Community Board Meetings
Community Boards are no longer mandated to meet in person, thanks in large part to recent opposition from members.
With the return of full-time board meetings this month following summer break, many board members, all of whom are volunteers, had plead with city and state officials to extend the online meetings. Citing the increased risks of in-person gathering. The outcry around the Five Boroughs was fairly swift.
However, newly installed Governor Hochul caved last week, and signed a bill into law that allows boards to hold public meetings and hearings virtually through at least January 15.
The legislation suspends the provision in the state’s Open Meetings Law, which requires government entities – including community boards – to hold meetings in person so the public can attend.
It’s been a long and winding road.
After former Governor Cuomo suspended in-person government meetings last year as part of his coronavirus state of emergency declaration, community boards migrated to internet video platforms such as Webex and Zoom to keep the process alive. It enabled the public at large to attend meetings from the comforts of home, without having to slog to some dimly-lit community room.
Once vaccination made such congregating safer (or so we thought), the state lifted the emergency order on June 24. Community boards were again required to follow the state’s open meetings law, which caused a revolt in the ranks.