Hempstead meetings video policy debated

Hempstead Town Hall Plaza is at 1 Washington Hempstead Town Hall Plaza is at 1 Washington St. Photo Credit: J.C. Cherubini, 2011

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Hempstead Town supervisor candidate Felix Procacci requested at Tuesday night's town board meeting that the board meetings be recorded for live video streaming online and posting later on the town website.

Procacci, a Republican and longtime town critic who will run as a Democrat against Supervisor Kate Murray, said he has asked several times since February for town meetings to be available for viewing online as a way to promote transparency.

"Kate Murray and the entire town board have refused to broadcast town board meetings online despite the fact that the town purchased $10,000 in professional video equipment with taxpayers' money," said Procacci, of Franklin Square, adding he has attended 63 consecutive town board meetings. "It is obvious the town board doesn't want the public to know what is going on in Town Hall. . . . There is no good reason not to broadcast town board meetings online."

Senior Town Councilman Anthony Santino responded, "Thank you for your campaign manifesto, Mr. Procacci."

Four other town residents echoed Procacci's request.

"Many citizens are unable to attend the scheduled town meetings, however, if they were recorded they would be available for residents to be better informed," said Joan Pinard of Uniondale, a member of the Nostrand Gardens Civic Association.

Hempstead purchased video and audio equipment with a grant received from a franchise agreement with Verizon to produce public service announcements and broadcast them on cable access channels, town spokesman Michael Deery said during the meeting. After the meeting, Deery said streaming live video would not be a permissible use under the grant. Town officials do not know the potential costs of recording the meetings, he added.

"It's not that we don't want to do it," Murray said at the meeting. "We will take it under advisement. We will consider it."

Towns and cities that record board meetings include Long Beach, Brookhaven, Huntington, Smithtown, Islip, Riverhead, Southampton, East Hampton, Southold and Shelter Island. Those that do not record them include North Hempstead, Babylon, Oyster Bay and Glen Cove.

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