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Move meetings back online

To the editor:

At last Monday’s village board meeting, I stepped up to the podium to urge the village board to go back to holding all of their meetings online. COVID-19 cases are surging in the area, flu season has just begun, and winter weather is about to make road conditions much worse.

The village board did not discuss this idea during the “new business” portion of the meeting.

Shortly after the meeting — which only lasted 12 minutes — concluded, it was reported that all Franklin County schools are moving to virtual classes until Jan. 4, 2021.

As Trustee Rich Shapiro has noted on his Facebook page, “This is the worst our area has seen since in a long time. The increase in the past three weeks is frightening.”

So why is it that the village board continues to meet in person? Why isn’t the village sanitizing the microphone in between speakers during the public comment period?

There have been countless technical issues with the in-person meetings. The audio has been poor for people listening remotely, the village has switched streaming platforms at least once, and several meetings have not even been recorded.

Meanwhile, the Saranac Lake Development Board and police reform committee have been meeting remotely on Zoom for months without issue.

In my opinion, the only reason for the village board to continue meeting in-person is to reduce public participation. Public comments can be sent in by those who can’t attend meetings in person, but the village board has never publicly addressed correspondence it has received.

One would think the village would want to address at least some of the correspondence it receives, like when a resident pointed out that Mike Ranalli did not provide the village board with accurate information regarding Lexipol’s copyright policy.

I fear the village board will not go back to remote meetings unless ordered by New York state. However, as I pointed out to them on Monday, the governor has responded too slowly before.

According to the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the COVID-19 death toll in New York could have been reduced by as much as 80% had Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio acted two weeks sooner.

Moving to virtual meetings will protect everyone’s health, help stop the spread of COVID-19 and make meetings more accessible for all.

This is a no-brainer.

David Lynch

Saranac Lake

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