New Rules to Govern Public Comment at Board Meetings
Tonight's Board of Supervisors' agenda features a new list of rules to follow when speaking during public comment.
After Chairman Frank Rothermel announced that this year's board would "open, honest and responsive," including two or more public comment sessions per meeting, the community has taken great advantage of it.
In fact, many board meetings have public comment sessions that run up to an hour at the beginning with one or more scattered throughout the rest of the meeting. They're normally filled with residents' concerns about board members' actions, previous transgretions and other issues with the township like dangerous roads.
However, as of late, some of the comment has begun to err on the abusive side, including personal attacks at board members or other township officials.
In the agenda for tonight's meeting, a new set of rules listed at the bottom details the way the board urges community members speaking during public comment to conduct themselves.
These rules are in places to hold "efficient and productive meetings" that "will encourage positive discourse on matters involving the Township and its government," the statement said.
The rules are:
- Stay focused on the topic being discussed
- Accept divergent perspectives and respect the opinions of others
- Listen carefully about what others are saying whether or not you agree
- Do not interrupt others when they are speaking
- Limit your comments to 5 minutes, if possible, to allow time for others to participate in the meeting discussion
- Focus on positive, constructive outcomes
- Avoid comments about personal matters; limit comments to Township business only
- Do not hold side conversations; they are disruptive
- Encourage and support different points of view
- When in doubt, ask for clarification
- Recognize that everyone shares responsibility for the success of the community
The board will meet at 7:30 tonight in the Administration Building.