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Commentary moved to end

September 14, 2011 - A rule change moves public comment from the beginning of Independence Township Board meetings to the end.

"The sole reason for township board meetings is to conduct the business of the township," said Independence Township Clerk Barbara Pallotta. "The open meetings act is basically a tool for the public – it simply means our meeting is open to the public."

Public comment is required, but where it goes on the agenda is up to the township, Pallotta said.

The change is due to a few people who have "set a negative tone" at the beginning of meetings.

"It's been my goal since I've been here to kind of play with the agenda so that we can have a more orderly meeting," she said.

In January 2009, Trustee Neil Wallace wrote a new set of board rules and polices for the same purpose. One limited speakers to one agenda item per meeting.

These rules were too restrictive, said Pallotta.

Trustee Larry Rosso said it's not uncommon to have public comment at the end; such is the case in Novi and Farmington Hills, as well as Clarkston School Board meetings.

Trustee David Lohmeier was in favor to public comment at the end.

"It certainly will let us get into the meeting quicker," Lohmeier said.

Treasurer Curt Carson wants to hear what the public has to say.

"I have a concern we'll be discouraging people who would come to make comments who are not willing to sit four, five, six hours before they have an opportunity to speak," Carson said.

Wallace said most attacks over the past three years have been towards him and Lohmeier.

"Don't do this on my account and I think Mr. Lohmeier would say the same thing," Wallace said. "I'm not concerned we're discouraging people."

Rosso said most people are civil and he found it unfortunate they have to "change the rule because of certain abusers."

Pallotta said if someone has to speak during public comment it's a sign the supervisor, clerk and treasurer are not doing their job.

"The public is invited to come here (to township hall) and we want to sort things out," she said.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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