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How Open Is Westport's Government?

WESTPORT, Conn. – When it comes to keeping residents in the know on town government, Westport goes above and beyond what's required by the state, Town Clerk Patricia Strauss says.

According to state law , all regular town meetings for the next year must be posted with the secretary of the state by Jan. 31. Agendas — with times, locations and topics of discussion — must be posted at least 24 hours before the meeting.

Municipalities are required only to post a time-stamped, hard copy of the agenda somewhere. Not only can residents find these agendas posted to a bulletin board outside the town clerk's office in Town Hall, Strauss said the town also has made it possible for residents to view an agenda without leaving home.

"People used to only have access to the bulletin board as long as Town Hall was open, but that wasn't good enough," Strauss said. "Now, people can sign up to receive meeting agendas and other news in their email. Agendas are also posted to the town meeting calendar on the town's website."

A daily and weekly schedule of all town board and commission meetings is also posted to Westport TV , the town's government access channel — Channel 79 on Cablevision and Channel 99 on AT&T.

Found a meeting that interests you, but can't make it? Depending on the meeting, Strauss said residents can watch from home. Live broadcasts of Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Representative Town Meeting, Planning and Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and Conservation Commission meetings can be found on Westport TV. These meetings are also live streamed to the town's website, where they are temporarily archived.

All televised meetings are permanently achieved in the town clerk's office as well. Residents can request a duplicate DVD for $5 or view the DVD at the town clerk's office, Strauss said.

Residents looking to find out what happened at nontelevised meetings can read the minutes on the town's website. Available minutes are posted under the " Government " tab and are now being posted to the meeting calendar, Strauss said.

"I think the town has signed on to open government as much as technology allows," Strauss said. "I'm sure as new ways to broadcast information is developed, we'll be looking into it."

Do you think the town does enough to inform the public about meetings before and after? In what ways do you think it can improve?

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