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Cicero committee provides a model for other towns to follow

— In the town of Cicero, “open government” isn’t just a buzzworthy term. It’s a way of life.

That’s what the Cicero Committee on Open Government has been driving toward since it was founded at the beginning of 2012. The committee, made up of both residents and government officials, aims to make town government more accessible to the people of the town. It also has the added advantage of acting as a model for other towns and villages in Central New York.

“Our mission statement is, ‘The purpose of this committee is to come up with ideas on how to make information more accessible to the residents and then suggest ways to implement those ideas. The purpose of this committee is to come up with ideas on how to make information more accessible to the residents and then suggest ways to implement those ideas,’” said Deborah Gardner, who founded the committee. “Our primary goal is to make information more accessible to the public.”

The members of the committee, in addition to Gardner, are Dennis Cook, Town Clerk Tracy Cosilman, David Kirk, Mike Labulis, Karen Lee and Mark Venesky.

Gardner, a member of the Cicero Democratic Committee who has been attending and videotaping Cicero’s board meetings for five years, said the idea for the committee actually came from Supervisor Jim Corl last summer when he was still a councilor. The idea was implemented shortly after Corl took over as supervisor at the beginning of 2012.

Since its inception, the committee has met three times. The last two meetings were open to the public, and though Gardner said no residents have attended, they have submitted ideas to her. So far, the committee has been working on a couple of ideas in order to make town government materials easier for residents to attain.

“At this point, we’ve submitted two proposals: streaming the town board meetings to the internet so that the public can watch the proceedings in real time and having articles or columns written by the different departments and published in the newspaper and on the web letting the public know what the responsibilities of each department are or anything else that is pertinent concerning that department,” Gardner said. “We are also discussing the use of social media to get information out to the public, as well as the possibility of using email.”

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