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Judge: Oyster Bay Town Board broke Open Meetings Law

Oyster Bay Town Hall is shown in this

Oyster Bay Town Hall is shown in this photo taken on Sunday, March 27, 2016. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The Oyster Bay Town Board violated state Open Meetings Law on two occasions this year and must receive training in the law, a state judge has ruled.

Judge Jeffrey Brown in New York State Supreme Court in Mineola wrote in a June 2 decision that the board had failed to publish in advance information about two resolutions it adopted at its March 21 meeting. The judge wrote that “these violations suggest a pattern of behavior that undermines the purpose and function of the Open Meetings Law” and ordered board members to obtain training from the state Committee on Open Government.

The case was brought by Robert Ripp, a retired police officer from Massapequa, who alleged that the town had violated Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Law on multiple occasions. Town Attorney Joseph Nocella said at the board meeting Tuesday that the board will do the training but that the town will appeal the ruling.

Though Brown stated in his ruling that allegations that a resolution regarding a sidewalk repair contract had not been published “at any time” before its adoption on March 21 were undisputed, the resolution and supporting material had been available on the town’s website and were downloaded by a Newsday reporter on Feb. 15.

The other resolution dealt with legal fees approved in a “walk on” resolution that had not been made available to the public before the meeting. Brown ruled that the town had deprived the public of the opportunity to better understand the resolution and comment on it.

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