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Office of Mental Health

New York State
Mental Health Services Council

Guidelines for Observers

The Mental Health Services Council welcomes interested observers at its meetings and the meetings of its committees. The meetings are open to the public in accordance with the Open Meeting Law. To make these meetings productive as possible, however, the Council has established certain ground rules.

  1. Discussion during the Full Meeting of the Council is limited to Council members and staff.

  2. If members of the public wish to submit written materials for consideration by the Council or its committees, materials should be sent to the Executive Secretary prior to the meeting at:

    Elizabeth A. Pease
    Council Executive Secretary
    New York State Office of Mental Health
    Office of Planning
    44 Holland Avenue
    Albany, NY 12229

    The Executive Secretary will share communications with the Council Chair or the Committee Chair, who in turn will verbally summarize the material for the Committee or Council members. If the material is not submitted in advance, but is brought to a meeting, it should be handed to a staff member who will give the material to the Chair. Handouts are not allowed.

    Material may be sent to individual Council members. Although members’ addresses are available, phone and fax numbers will not be provided. Staff will not mail or distribute written material from interested parties to each Council or committee member.

  3. Unless prior approval to participate in a discussion has been granted by the Committee Chair, discussion during committee meetings is limited to Council members (who may request information or reports from staff to the Council). Participation and the amount of time for public presentation are at the sole discretion of the Committee Chair.

    Those who wish to participate shall identify themselves to a Committee staff person prior to the meeting and indicate the agenda item they would like to support, oppose or comment on.* Written material will be accepted by the staff person, who will share it with the Chair. Handouts are not allowed.

    As a general rule, and subject in any event to the discretion of the Committee Chair, there will be a limit of five minutes for oral presentations. In the interest of having the meeting progress in a timely manner, one representative of an organization or facility shall be appointed as a spokesperson for that group. Also, it is requested that all members of the public, whether an individual or a representative of a group or facility, present only new views or ideas on an agenda item, rather than reiterate a thought or position similar to a previous presenter.

  4. The taking of photographs by the news media will require approval of the Chair prior to the start of the meeting to minimize any interruption of the meeting.

  5. Observers will be accommodated within the physical limitations of the meeting room and in accordance with the number allowed by the building’s fire safety code.

  6. In addition to the general guidelines contained herein, specific protocols for speaker presentations at the Project Review Committee meetings are outlined below:

    1. The Chair shall have the responsibility for the allocation of time for each project or series of projects. Time management is vitally important to this Committee. At each meeting, the committee reviews numerous complex projects that require time for analysis and discussion. Each project is important, especially so in the eyes of the applicant and, occasionally, to other parties interested in the undertaking. As such, the Chair must manage the meeting with utmost efficiency and fairness.

    2. Presentations by applicants shall be limited to those cases where the sponsor has been invited to present by OMH or cases where there is interest or opposition by other parties who have made their interest known to OMH in advance of the meeting.

    3. Presentations by applicants shall be organized and managed by the applicant who shall have the option of presenting before or after presentations by other interested parties. Applicant presentations shall generally be limited to five minutes.

    4. Presentations by other interested parties shall be organized and managed by a “spokesperson” for the parties, if appropriate. The number and time allotted speakers shall be at the sole discretion of the Chair. Generally, the number of speakers shall be limited to no more than four and the total time for presentations shall not exceed ten minutes.

    5. The applicant will be afforded two minutes for final comments prior to Committee discussions.

    6. As a point of emphasis, for both applicants and other interested parties, handouts or other written materials will NOT be accepted at the meeting.

*The Regulations Committee requests that proposed participants advise staff, preferably in writing, of their reasons for support or opposition to a regulation and offer specific recommendations they may have. The Project Review Committee participants must sign in on the “Speaker’s List.”

Comments or questions about the information on this page can be directed to the Office of Planning.