The Town of Oyster Bay has further established the transparency reforms promised by Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino. Proof of this is the fact that Reclaim NY, a statewide, independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization committed to government reform and accountability has named the Town a leader in online transparency and accessibility, as part of their new initiative aimed at evaluating and increasing online transparency from local governments, called the New York State Transparency Project. At a press conference held by Reclaim NY and the Town of Oyster Bay, the Town received a grade of nearly 80% overall, which is almost quadruple the score the Town received before Supervisor Saladino took office and began to run the Town of Oyster Bay.
“When I took office, I promised to regain the faith and trust of our residents by ushering in a new era in the Town of Oyster Bay, one with the highest ethical standards, and complete transparency,” Supervisor Saladino stated. “When Reclaim NY approached the Town about this transparency initiative, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to show how serious the Town is about creating the most ethically operating Town in the state of New York. Upon hearing about the Transparency Project, I invited Reclaim NY in and radically changed the way the Town operates. As a result, the Town has become the standard bearer, as the Town was not only the first to submit to an evaluation by Reclaim NY, but also the first to make the changes necessary to earn the distinction of being a leader in transparency, to better help open the doors of Town government to our residents.”
With their online project, Reclaim NY’s goal is to ultimately evaluate each local municipality in New York State on their online accessibility in different categories such as municipal transparency, fiscal transparency, access to information, and contracts, amongst others.
As a result of the partnership with Reclaim NY, Supervisor Saladino has drastically changed the way the Town does business, especially when it comes to online transparency and accessibility. After meeting with Reclaim, at the Supervisor’s direction, the Town began implementing new practices to further increase online transparency and accessibility, including posting the rules for contract bidding, instructions for submitting a request for proposals (RFP) along with a list of current RFPs, and overhauling a section of the website which details the Town’s newly restructured ethics guidelines, practices, and reporting, along with other measures.
Supervisor Saladino points towards the Town’s unprecedented recent open work session that was held in response to a RFP for the operation of food and beverage concessions at Town parks and beaches as the perfect example of opening the doors of Town government to everyone, ensuring and proving that the Town is operating in complete transparency. During this work session, which was open to the public and livestreamed through the Town’s website for all residents, the Town heard over 18 hours of proposals from each organization who responded to the Town’s RFP.
The Town Board and Supervisor Saladino then deliberated and chose the winning bidders publicly so that everyone would know why they were chosen, in complete openness. The result of this process is that the Town will now receive five times the rent they received under the former vendor. Additionally, no taxpayer monies will be used to update the rented facilities. The vendors have committed millions of dollars to rebuild the facilities they are renting.
“This unprecedented change in the administration of Town operations adds to the proof of a new way of doing business in the Town of Oyster Bay. A new way which establishes the lead in transparency, ethics, and good government,” Supervisor Saladino said. “Now, through their Transparency Project, Reclaim NY recognizes this new, unprecedented, and wholly different operation of Town government.”
“The Town of Oyster Bay has shown it is serious about turning the page on years of controversy by being the first to adopt the vast majority of our comprehensive online transparency practices,” said Brandon Muir, Reclaim New York Executive Director. “Supervisor Joseph Saladino, and the entire town staff, have helped Oyster Bay take a huge step toward a new era of open government by empowering citizens to call for change, and hold officials accountable.”