Meadville Tribune

Local News

March 4, 2013

County to public: Comment on comments

(Continued)

MEADVILLE — How to submit comments

Written comments about Crawford County Board of Commissioners’ proposed public comment policy are asked to submitted by Thursday. Commissioners hope to have the public participation guidelines in place by late April.

Written comments may be delivered to the county commissioners’ office at the county courthouse, 903 Diamond Park, Meadville, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; mailed to Crawford County Board of Commissioners, 903 Diamond Park, Meadville, Pa. 16335; or emailed to Cheri Porter-Jackson, chief clerk of Crawford County, at cporter-jackson@co.crawford.pa.us

Below is the text of the written comments Crawford County District Attorney Francis Schultz submitted Feb. 22 to the Crawford County Board of Commissioners on the board’s proposed public comment policy for commissioner work sessions and board meetings. It reads:

“Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to provide comments regarding the proposed public participation policy. It is quite clear that clear guidelines must be established. Currently, the meetings have become somewhat of a fiasco with certain residents being permitted to ask questions at will and also being permitted to make wild accusations about elected officials, department heads and certain departments. Many of these wild accusations are repeated at meeting after meeting. This policy, as long as it is enforced, will bring order back to these meetings.

“At both the work session and the regular business meeting, public comment should be limited to items that are on the official agenda. The public should not be able to provide comment on anything that is not on the official agenda for either meeting. Such a rule would prevent members of the public from making repeated baseless accusations about our county officials and departments. For example, if the Office of District Attorney is not on the agenda, members of the public should not be permitted to make statements about me or the office. If there is not anything related to the Crawford County Correctional Facility on either agenda, members of the public should not be able to comment on the operation of the facility. The purpose of the public comment provision in the Sunshine Law is to permit the public to comment on items that are to be acted upon by a governmental body. The purpose is not to provide the public with a forum for unfettered commentary on any issue under the sun. Certainly, the commissioners, as a group or as individuals, can meet with citizens (outside a public meeting) to hear any matter or concern of a particular citizen or group.

“If you have any questions or comments about the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.”

— District Attorney Francis J. Schultz

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