Groups Cite Committee on Open Government Opinion That CPRB Must Meet Publicly
Secretive Government Board Appointed by Governor, Mayor, and Legislative Leaders Approves Ten of Billions in MTA Spending
A group of 17 organizations representing transportation advocates, government watchdogs and others today sent a letter to the Governor, Mayor and Senate and Assembly leaders asking them to ensure that their appointees on the MTA Capital Program Review Board (CPRB) follow the Open Meetings Law. The groups say the obscure but important board violated the Open Meetings Law when it voted on the 2015-2019 capital plan behind closed doors with no public notification or transparency.
Under state law, the board must approve the MTA’s 5-year capital plan, and is expected to meet as soon as October of this year after the MTA Board votes on the Capital Program.
The groups also sent an advisory opinion from the Committee on Open Government which says:
- 1. Voting and action by a public body – such as the CPRB – is required to be carried out only at a meeting during which a quorum has physically convened, or during a meeting held by videoconference. (The public is required to be able to attend in either case, with advance notice of the time and place of the meeting.)
- 2. The CPRB does not have the authority to act outside of a meeting.
- 3. The Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) applies to certain materials provided by the MTA to the CPRB, such as statistical or factual information, or final agency policy determinations.
The CPRB is also responsible for ongoing oversight of the MTA capital plan, and three of its members must approve spending from the Outer Borough Transit Account. The fund was created in the 2018 state budget with dedicated funds from the for-hire vehicle surcharge.
The Senate in 2009 created a website for the CPRB during the 2010-2014 capital plan process. The website is no longer active. The letter from the groups calls upon the appointing authorities to create a website for the CPRB with information about its activities, members, meetings, and any materials and video from meetings.
Please see below the letter and advisory opinion.