The Nassau County Legislature has decided to post transcripts of its public hearings dating back to 2005 online, along with videos of sessions going forward.
We can only say thank you, hallelujah –– and it’s about time.
For two decades, we have lived in an Internet world in which information is easily shared among computers. The Internet connects people, and is becoming our chief mode of communication.
For years, we have said that more information about the Legislature’s proceedings should be made publicly available online. Now, finally, we have it.
You can thank Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, a Republican from East Meadow, and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, a Democrat from Freeport, for the county government’s newfound openness.
It all came about suddenly. On April 30, Abrahams filed a resolution to make all county legislative hearings available online via a video archive and meeting transcripts. In the past, legislative hearings were live-streamed over the Internet but never archived, so people could not watch the video feed at their convenience.
Abrahams’s move came after Henry Boitel, a Rockville Centre Democratic Club leader, filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain legislative meeting transcripts to post in an archive on the Democratic Club’s website, thus making them available to the public. Boitel had already obtained and posted transcripts from January 2012 to February 2014 when county officials decided to post them on the county’s site.
“It is the duty of the Legislature to provide access to its own records. It is irresponsible to point residents to a private party website to get public information,” said Abrahams, who is running for the 4th Congressional District seat long held by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who is retiring this year.
Just like that, Gonsalves instructed the county clerk’s office to begin posting transcripts and videos.