Elkton Town Hall – Jan. 6: — When Mayor Joseph Fisona kicked off the first session of 2010 by reading a prepared statement outlining rules for public input he surprised a lot of people, including some commissioners. “Since the last meeting went off course” procedures are going to be enforced, he explained. Citizens offering remarks must sign in prior to the call to order and limit comments to two to five minutes, as specified by the town code.
Seeking an explanation Commissioner Givens inquired: “Wait a minute I know you run the meeting and I’m not trying to put you on the spot, but what are you talking about?” “It’s so we can have a little order,” was the reply. When he wondered what would happen if a citizen missed the sign in sheet, Commissioner Jablonski, noting that enforcement would improve the sessions, suggested placing a large poster outside the room. “We’re having people come to the meetings and we don’t want to discourage them. If the meeting is run by the presiding officer, he can manage it. I don’t care who it is, if they’re going to come to a meeting, I’d want them to have the opportunity to speak,” Commissioner Givens added. The subject continued for a few more minutes until Commissioner Givens said, “I’ll say this, if you’re going to go by that you need to go through the code and follow everything along the line.”
The audience was intensely interested in Mayor Fisona’s announcement and hushed murmuring could be heard as people whispered reactions to each other. A couple of citizens were heard softly saying you don’t even know what they’re discussing until it’s over.
Once the officials concluded all their business, the last item for the evening was the public remarks section. Pleased be advised you’re out there on the World Wide Web and we are watching and people expect you to be professionals, was one. “Sometimes you got to keep the truth in the matter. Because you’re on the web you can’t keep it fake. You’ve got to have discussions to make decisions. Keep it real,” another urged.
Former five-term Mayor James Crouse had practical suggestions for the political leaders. “You vote on things and the first time a citizen hears about it is when you vote. One thing that would be helpful is you might discuss it at one meeting and vote at another. Give people a chance to view it on the web or whatever, but give people a chance to take part before you vote.” With that the meeting adjourned.
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Blogger’s Note: As soon as E-Span, the Town of Elkton’s Official You-Tube Channel, streams the video clip of this meeting, we’ll link to the popular video service since it is helpful for citizens to hear the discussion directly.