North Hempstead board live-streams meetings

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March

North Hempstead Town Hall in Manhasset on March 5, 2012. (Credit: Nicole Bartoline)

North Hempstead will begin live-streaming its town board meetings over the Internet this month, becoming the first town in Nassau County to do so.

Supervisor Judi Bosworth, a former Nassau County legislator who campaigned on the issue last year, said she based her proposal on the county's model.

"I saw it happening at the county, and it was done very successfully," said Bosworth, a Democrat.


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"I wanted to implement it quickly to follow up on something I had committed to while I was running."

The board voted unanimously last week to begin live-streaming its meetings on the town's website, starting with the Feb. 25 meeting.

The town has been streaming the meetings for employees for the past two years, with the broadcast only accessible on the town's internal network, North Hempstead spokesman Ryan Mulholland said.

While the stream will be live and public, the videos won't be archived or shown on the town's cable television channel. Bosworth said she would consider creating an archive in the future.

Republican Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio made broadcasting government meetings a key point in her unsuccessful run for supervisor last year, as well as in her 2011 run for council.

She brought up the idea in February 2012 as one of her first acts as a councilwoman, but it was voted down 4-2 along party lines, with Democrats, including then-Supervisor Jon Kaiman, defeating the measure.

Democrats have since dropped their opposition, with Bosworth promoting the move as a way to make government "open and transparent." De Giorgio said she was gratified that the measure finally passed.

"I think it's very important for the public to participate in government," she said. "You can't always make it to town hall at 7:30 at night for the meeting."

All Suffolk County towns except Babylon webcast or broadcast their meetings, as does Long Beach and several villages across the Island.

Lynbrook Village Clerk John Giordano said airing village meetings on television has buoyed public participation.

"We've found it very valuable," he said.

Giordano said a resident once appeared at a late-night village board meeting in plaid pajamas and slippers -- he was so incensed over something he heard over the live broadcast that he hopped in the car without changing clothes.

Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said the move to webcast the meetings made "perfect sense."

"The taxpayers are paying for it [the meeting], so they should at least be able to see what's going on," he said.

It also helps to increase accountability, Horner said.

"Public officials behave differently in the open than behind closed doors," he said. "This opens the electronic door."

 

North Hempstead meeting live-stream plan

-- Starts with the town board meeting on Feb. 25

-- Will be available during town board meetings on the town's website, northhempstead.com

-- Will not be archived for future viewing

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that Glen Cove live-streams its meetings. It does not.

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