|Bill Berry is a former Commissioner|
This is the second attempt Commissioners have made to limit public comment. In September, a similar proposal, spearheaded by Marty Zaworski, was tabled.
Zawarski stated that Commissioners are accessible, by email or phone at nearly all hours. He complained about people who are "redundant" and who come to the podium and read for ten minutes, which is precisely what happened several weeks ago when PennEast Pipeline opponents asked the Board to approve an anti-pipeline resolution.
Michael Hudak stated that the Board follows "Robertson's [sic] Rules of Order", adding that "Courtesy of the Floor"is a "privilege, not a right."
Of seven public speakers at the meeting, five opposed any change that would limit the right to speak to the beginning of a meeting.
Green Pond Marsh activist John Glagola complained that the policy prevents people from addressing issues that come up during a meeting, asking whether he wold need a ouija board to divine what is going to happen. He was joined by Melissa Davis, who stated public comment has bnever been an issue. She called the proposed policy "disrespectful to the citizens."
Karen Berry took it one step further. She called the proposal undemocratic. "It is in the interest of good government to be as transparent as possible," she argued. "That is what democracy is all about."
Her husband Bill, himself a former Commissioner,noted that in his time on the Board, "We sat here sometimes 'till two in the morning and listened to what residents had to say. The more open, the better."
Tom Nolan cautioned fellow Commissioners at the limitation. "We're not just here to listen to the developers," he complained, calling the policy the start of a slippery slope. "If it's not broken, don't try to fix it," he warned.
Phil Barnard was silent, but has previously supported the public right to speak so long as people are courteous.
Pat Breslin was absent.