2018-11-08 / Letters

‘Gaveling down’ OK during public comment

To the editor:

This responds to the October 25 article on Empire’s supposed violation of the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”). (1) At the meeting, I said that the Village President could limit comments made to the subject of agenda items, At the point in the agenda for comments addressing agenda items, recognizing that limitation would not apply later in the agenda. (2) The AG Opinion referenced did NOT opine that reasonable limits on topics are impermissible. That opinion (and others) expressly recognized that topical restrictions can be imposed (for example, limiting topics to those within the business of the village and prohibiting personal attacks unrelated to the business of the village) but OMA does not allow restrictions on WHO can speak on a topic. (3) Empire adopted permissible reasonable rules (a) assigning a time in the agenda for comments on agenda items and a separate time for comments not so limited; and (b) allowing a speaker to be ruled out of order if comments are not germane (e.g., Ms. Walton’s hypothetical attempt to read irrelevant items from the Wall Street Journal). (4) No apology is owed to Ms. Sharry for ruling her to be out of order. She attempted to make comments, at the point in the agenda allowing for comments on agenda items, about a candidate for a deputy clerk position (who had not even yet been interviewed for that position), no agenda item involved a recommendation or report on individual applicants, and Ms. Sharry’s comments were not directed to the applicant’s pertinent qualifications, experience, character or conduct. (5) Trustee Frey’s motion to seek advice from the Village Attorney was reasonable but unnecessary, because the statute, the village’s rules, and the AG opinions are not beyond the ken of persons of ordinary intelligence and eduction. Saving taxpayers’ money is ok.

Terry Bacon
Wilce Street,

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