Daily Archives: May 8, 2010

Closing of Town Meeting Controversial as Board Votes 3 to 1 to Conclude Public Session

Elkton Town Hall, May 5, 2010 – The town meeting came to a close in a split decision following comments by citizens, which included remarks about the need to conduct business in the open and allow for citizen input while policy matters are under consideration.  Following completion of business on the agenda and brief remarks by five citizens, Mayor Joseph Fisona asked for permission to end the session.  The 3 to 1 decision on what is usually a routine procedural matter represented a familiar voting pattern.  The mayor and Commissioners Jablonski and Piner typically vote together on matters that are before the board and that alignment replicated itself on this question.  Commissioner Givens, who speaks up about the restrictions the mayor has put on public comments, opposed the closure.

As it became obvious the elected officials were done, a soft hum started growing in the surprised crowd.  One person raised his hand to try to get the mayor’s attention and when he wasn’t recognized he politely called out.  But the closure vote went ahead and was approved.  The buzz in the audience was growing louder as this became obvious, and a voice called out what are you doing. “Are you going into an executive session?” another inquired!  Someone else said “We don’t know what you’re doing.”  The town’s audio system often doesn’t work or officials don’t speak into the microphones so the crowd frequently has trouble hearing what’s going on and glitches had been affecting the forty-five minute meeting this evening.  With the majority approving the action and the buzz growing, the mayor brought the gavel down ending the May 5 meeting.

Afterward at least two people were heard saying that they’d come this evening to make comments.  They were curious why they hadn’t been recognized and allowed to speak since they adhered to the new restrictive policy on public comments by signing the sheet that was still sitting on the sign-in table.  Forty-five minutes after the 7 o’clock start, the room was buzzing with puzzlement as the citizens slowly drifted away and the opportunity to make public comments after all the official business is a done deal had come to an end.

Blogger’s Note – The town streams videos of this official public record, but the closure motion and resulting activity are not contained in that public recording.  Someone Notice maintains its own audio recording of meeting to help in reporting what happens.