Daily Freeman Reports: Rhinebeck town Supervisor Tom Traudt bothered by Democratic board members’ caucuses

RHINEBECK, N.Y. — Town Supervisor Tom Traudt says closed-door discussions by the Town Board’s Democratic majority under the guise of a political caucus is leaving the public out the loop concerning town business



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  1. As elected members of the Rhinebeck Town Board, we certainly share The Daily Freeman’s commitment to openness in government as evidenced by the Jan. 22 editorial “Rhinebeck Town Board should do business in public.”

    The newspaper’s commentary stems from Rhinebeck supervisor Tom Traudt’s irritation (see “Rhinebeck town Supervisor Tom Traudt bothered by Democratic board members’ caucuses,” Jan. 18). As reported, Tom is “bothered” (along with the Freeman) that the Board’s three-member Democratic majority gets together now and then to weigh issues, deliberate in private and formulate recommendations.

    Of course, in New York State, it’s perfectly commonplace and legal for legislators who share a point of view or interest to meet together informally to discuss pending business, exchange opinions and seek a common strategy. This is done in all kinds of councils, both public and private. Just as normally, planning and advisory discussions and executive sessions occur daily that are out of public view at all levels of democratic government. Such off-the-record informal meetings may be held within political Parties or, as is often the case, on the sidelines of issues or interest groups. All of this is normal practice and is thoroughly consistent with the letter and spirit of New York State’s progressive Open Meetings law.

    But such sessions have little to do with “conducting public business in private.” All Rhinebeck public business is conducted officially, openly and transparently at the Town Board’s biweekly public meetings. At these meetings, other members of the Town Board as well as interested citizens have an opportunity to make their voices heard and their opinions recorded. The only decisions that matter are the formal decisions taken at public Board meetings. Clearly, that’s as it should be. Full transparency in government decision-making is essential at all levels in a democracy.

    We’re sorry that Supervisor Traudt is “bothered” by our planning sessions. And we genuinely regret that the Daily Freeman made his “tale” the subject of public criticism addressed to the Democrats on the Board. Although we readily expect to be chastised for our missteps when they occur (occasionally, we hope), we certainly do not merit censure for our efforts to be thoughtful representatives, effective and well-prepared legislators and intelligent builders of a better Rhinebeck.

    Gina Fox, Joe Gelb, and Elizabeth Spinzia
    Councilpersons, Rhinebeck Town Board

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