Transparency committee: N.Y. Senate cellphone ban violates Open Meetings Law

The executive director of the state Committee on Open Government really took to heart Sen. Brad Hoylman’s Friday request for an “expedited” advisory opinion on the question of whether or not the state Senate’s new rule barring the use of cellphones as audio, video or photographic recording devices within the chamber and its public galleries without the permission of the Senate secretary violates the state’s Open Meeting Law.

Robert Freeman’s conclusion, in a five-page letter to Hoylman dated Monday, is that the rule is clearly contrary to state law.

The letter — which backs up comments Freeman made to journalists last week in the wake of Wednesday’s adoption of the chamber’s rules, including the cellphone ban — notes the decades of legal precedent that defines what constitutes a “public body” and requires that such bodies must make their proceedings available for photography, audio and video recording and broadcast. Continue…