Commissioners to Meet Wednesday Elkton Announces; Doesn’t Disclose Agenda

The Mayor and commissioners of Elkton have announced that the board will meet in a workshop session Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 4:00 p.m. at the town hall.  That’s the extent of the announcement so we’re unable to provide readers with information on the public policy matters the board is going to consider since they don’t publicize that information.

As we’ve said many times, it would be helpful for better government in Elkton, if the political leaders informed the public about subjects under discussion.   Other towns in Cecil County find it helpful to inform citizens about what’s going on and they allow them to comment at workshops.   This failure to inform the public is one of the elements that created problems when the mayor and commissioners approved a fee waiver on a Collins Street Property. 

A former five term mayor of Elkton, Jim Crouse, trying to comprehend (as was everyone else in the audience) a decision the board had made at its last workshop commented,  “We don’t even know what you’re approving,” as he referenced the action that surprised audience members.  That board action is now resulting in another legal proceeding against the town as two citizens ask the court to issue an injunction.

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4 responses to “Commissioners to Meet Wednesday Elkton Announces; Doesn’t Disclose Agenda

  1. Keeping citizens out of government proceedings makes for the smoother running meetings that our Mayor and Commissioners desire. I’ve been to meetings where Lew George stood outside discouraging people from attending. Our County Commissioner’s meetings often start with a statement by Al Wein (notably done before audio recording starts) that anyone speaking “off topic” will be removed from the podium.

    What’s next? Book burning? Political prisoners? Kristallnacht? Los desaparecidos?

  2. Bob:

    Funny that’s exactly what Mayor Fisona said too, “the last meeting went off course.” That off course part referred to the citizens comments after the controversial decision had been made and it was a “done deal.”

    At the earlier session, where the public didn’t know the matter was being dicussed, it all went along just fine without public involvement. But when it came time to formalize the boards decision, you could see how much the citizens wanted to figure out what was going on and offer comments.

    One five term mayor stood by for a long time with his hand raised politely and quietly trying to offer some input when it could’ve been some help. As someone in the audience remarked, “Jimmie you might as well put your hand down, he’s not going to recognize you.”

    From the moment we began watching this situation develop, we knew it was going to be very controversial, but we guess the commissioners weren’t aware of that. We wonder that if they’d listened to the public and got a sense of how critically it was going to be perceived before making it “a done deal,” if they wouldn’t have made some other decision, especially with the election season approaching.

    Oh well, we’ll see how this plays out in the courts now since the town’s restrictive approach to putting sunshine on its public meetings and allowed adequate public comment, puts them in this situaiton.

  3. I have been to county commissioner meetings and the only time I heard anything like what Bob said was when there was a public hearing on a particular issue, not the general public comments period at every meeting. If there is a formal public hearing on a change in the zoning code, for example, people should stick to that topic. If they want to talk about something else, they are free to do so in the public comment period of the meeting. that makes sense to me, not some big conspiracy to silence people.

  4. Louise:

    I don’t have as much experience observing county meetings, so I’m not able to evaluate what they do.

    But in Elkton the commissioners make it hard for the public to offer comments about things prior to official decisions. I think having public input (for consideration) strengthens informed decision making. The way they do it is, the public comments are limited to the end of the meeting, after decisions are made. That’s not too informative, except for causing confusion and upset citizens. Then when they have the workshops they don’t let you know what they’re discussing so people aren’t sufficiently informed in order to be able to monitor a developing situation.

    Then they decided they wanted more sunshine on things and that’s why they created E-span, the Elkton You-tube Channel. But they only broadcast about 1/2 of the meetings, the one where they’re mostly ratifying decisions they’ve already made in the workshops.

    These improvement opportunities are so obvious and easy to correct, I’m surprised they don’t do that, considering that they’re now heading into an election cycle.

    Since these are public meetings and they are recorded, I think Someone Noticed may start streaming the other one. At least it would make their discussion available, especially since they don’t want to do that. It would also be a valuable public service from new media.

    Then since the meeting went off course, according to Mayor Fisona, once citizens were finally able to finally comment on an action that was already concluded, they restricted input some more.

    There is one exception, where they’re required to hold public hearings, as required by law

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