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Former Yorktown Supervisor Takes Town To Court Over Open-Meetings Issue

Former Yorktown Councilwoman Susan Siegel
Former Yorktown Councilwoman Susan Siegel Photo Credit: yorktownny.org

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- Former Yorktown Supervisor Susan Siegel is taking the town to court to prevent it from, she said, violating the state’s Open Meetings Law.

Siegel, who was supervisor from 2010-11, said she plans to seek a preliminary injunction in Supreme Court in White Plains Tuesday, Jan. 26, that would prevent the board from discussing staffing issues at four meetings it has already scheduled.

Michael McDermott, the town’s attorney, will be representing the board in court.

Staffing issues such as the creation of new positions, the converting part-time positions to full-time ones; or having staff members perform functions that are currently performed by outside consultants, have direct financial impacts on taxpayers and, by law, should be discussed in public, Siegel said.

The board can only call an executive sessions for certain reasons, she explained, such as the discussion of a particular employee’s work history or pay.

“The public has a right to know if the board is planning to increase costs by bringing on more staff, or more expensive staff,” Siegel said.

Siegel, who lost her bid to be re-elected to the board in November, said the town has approximately 235 employees.

“As far as I know, when I left, there weren’t any problems” with any of them, she said Monday.

“We shouldn’t be left in the dark only to learn about these changes at the last minute when new appointments are being made,” Siegel said, adding: “By then, it’s too late. There’s no opportunity for any public input.”

Other than the Supervisor Michael Grace’s brief mention of a new deputy town engineer position at a Jan. 5 board meeting, Siegel said she has no idea what other staffing changes the board might be considering.

Insisting that she’s not adverse to reorganizing departments if it will increase efficiency, Siegel said that she is adamant that staffing changes, such as the creation of new positions, be discussed at open meetings.

“That’s the law, and our elected officials have taken an oath to uphold the law,” Siegel said.

The court will also hear arguments Tuesday on whether the town’s legal notices regarding the four meetings were adequate or need to be re-advertised.

“I’ve been fighting for an open and transparent government for 45 years and I’m not about to stop,” said Siegel, who is representing herself in court.

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