Written by Linda Portney Goldstein: firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 18 May 2012 00:00
The first public meeting of the North Hempstead Temporary Committee on Redistricting took place in an almost empty boardroom at Town Hall on Monday, May 7. There were fewer than 20 people in attendance.
At the first opportunity, the few community members present, including two representatives of the League of Women Voters, took the town to task for not properly notifying town residents and blamed the town for the “poor turnout” on such an important topic.
The Honorable Barbara Donno, one of the eight committee members, also expressed concern about the lack of “adequate notification” to the public. One of the town’s attorneys somewhat defensively pointed out that “the town had exceeded the minimum procedure for notification.” That comment did not go over well with the people in the audience or the committee members.
The town’s attorney, Simone Friedman, said that notification would have been in the legal notices section of the local weekly papers. Attendees argued that issuing a prominent press release would have been more in keeping with the spirit of adequate notification on such an important issue. The committee members seemed to agree.
The members of the Committee on Redistricting are an esteemed group consisting of judges, academics and officials of local villages. The committee members were surprised by the complaints related to notification. It appears that they took the public comments very seriously. Just three days after the meeting, the town issued a press release notifying residents of the next two meetings of the committee.
Sid Nathan, director of communication for the Town of North Hempstead, said that notices for the May 7 meeting had appeared prominently in print and online versions of Newsday, were featured on the town’s website and TV station and on Councilwoman DeGiorgio’s website. As to the criticism regarding local newspaper notification, Nathan said, “We will do better in the future.”
Nathan went on to outline the plan for publicizing the next two meetings of the committee. The plan includes robo calls, notices in print and online and the availability online of relevant materials, such as maps, in advance of the meeting, so they can be reviewed by the public. The next meeting scheduled for May 21 at 7:30 at Town Hall, 220 Plandome Rd. in Manhasset, will also be webcast.
Some town officials believe that the critics in the audience were politically motivated, saying the speakers wanted to make the predominantly Democratic town board “look bad.” But, representatives of the League of Women Voters echoed the frustration regarding lack of notification.