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Originally Published: December 2, 2013

Measure an important milestone for greater transparency in city government

Statement by Executive Director Dick Dadey

The sun shines very brightly in New York City today as Citizens Union hails Mayor Michael Bloomberg for signing into law legislation passed by the City Council, Intro 132-A (Brewer), that ensures city government’s public meetings are recorded and webcast, and that archival footage is provided online for the public.  This new law – shining a light on virtually all city government public proceedings – builds on the Bloomberg administration’s and City Council’s important record of increasing government transparency and accessibility, such as the passage in 2012 of the city’s landmark Open Data Law.  The law will also importantly bring more of city government action closer to New Yorkers.

Citizens Union has supported the passage of this legislation since its introduction, and provided important research and analysis of this issue to the City Council, having testified in April this year in favor of the legislation, as well as in 2008. We also provided recommendations to further improve the efforts of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in facilitating the webcasting of city government proceedings.

Requiring city agencies, commissions, and task forces and the council to webcast their public meetings and hearings increases their accessibility, allowing the public to easily view meetings from any location with internet access. Webcasting also importantly allows stakeholders and members of the press to more easily monitor government proceedings. Media and advocacy organizations in turn relay information obtained to the public, which expands the reach of webcasted meetings. Further, given that government proceedings often occur during the daytime when most New Yorkers are unable to attend, archiving video footage of meetings will allow New Yorkers to see government in action at any time, and provide an additional public record of the meetings. We believe that this in turn will allow for greater knowledge of government deliberations and increase accountability of government.

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