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OML-AO-5286

From: Freeman, Robert (DOS)
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 8:17 AM
To:
Subject: RE: person banned from town meeting

Hi

I've received other inquiries regarding the matter, and my comment is simple:
First, the Open Meetings Law specifies that meetings are open to the general
public. Whether an individual resides in the town or Timbuktu doesn't matter;
that person has the right to attend. Second, the town supervisor doesn't make
the rules. The rule of law prevails over his directive, and further, as one
of five members of the board, he has no unilateral authority to bar an
individual from attending meetings.

I note that a public body, such as a town board, has the authority to adopt
rules to govern its proceedings, but that the rules must be reasonable. It
would be reasonable, in my view, to adopt rules regarding decorum, outbursts,
disruptions and the like. However, barring an individual from attending based
on that person's politics or point of view, without more, would be contrary to
law.

I hope that this is helpful.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12231
Phone: (518)474-2518
Fax: (518)474-1927
Website: http://www.dos.state.ny.us/coog/