Hearings should have been open to the public

Jamestown Post-Journal

Last week, members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration held four community meetings focusing on gun violence.

Chances are no one in those communities knew anything about them — because they were closed to the press.

How counterproductive is that? One would think Hempstead, Middletown, Utica and Binghamton were chosen for the community meetings because those cities are having particular issues with gun violence. Wouldn’t it make sense to have the press in attendance so that they could report to the community the problems community leaders are having and what the state is doing to help? The fact there is gun violence in the four cities doesn’t come as a shock to community residents, but in our view it would have made sense to use the state officials’ visits to shine a spotlight on the issue.

The fact that the meetings were closed to the press makes us wonder what, exactly, state officials are afraid of? Do they not want to answer questions about Gov. Andrew Cuomo? Are they afraid they will have to explain how the state’s closure of courts for more than a year is contributing to the problem? Do they not want to the public to hear local officials’ complaints about bail reform?

Last week’s meetings should have been open to the media and the public — and the state should reverse course and make any future gun violence prevention community meetings open to the press and the public.