Town Board Bans Public Involvement at Town Board Meetings

Last night, Tuesday, March 26th, 2002 the Kent Town Board voted to deny the public the right to speak on issues under consideration by the town board at future Town Board meetings.

With only Councilmembers D'Ambrosio and Doherty standing for the rights of the people, and after speaker after speaker begged the board to reconsider, Supervisor Annmarie Baisley with Councilmembers Lou Tartaro and Christine Woolley voted to stop the public from lawfully participating in Town Board meetings.

Instead, the public will be invited to workshop meetings which are held without minutes being taken and are not televised for review by the general taxpaying public. According to the Supervisor, the public will be allowed to address the board during workshops but, when the board is going to vote on an issue comments from the public will not be allowed. Moreover, there will be no record of public participation as there is now.

The process used to be that when an issue came on the agenda, the board would discuss the matter and then open the floor to public comment. During this time it was possible for meaningful discussion and an informative exchange of ideas to take place - and it often did. At the end of the public meeting each member of the public who managed to stay awake was allowed to address the board for 3 minutes on any subject they wished (later amended to any TOWN related subject) - but the board would not respond nor comment.

However, this system broke down when members of the board would chastise or interrupt or even yell at the member of the public who was speaking. If a speaker asked a question of a Board member Supervisor Baisley would cut them off and tell them they had to address her, not the board member and a fight usually ensued between the Supervisor, the public and the board.

Time and time again Supervisor Baisley would interrupt a speaker to offer her personal advice or, if she did not approve of the line of questioning she would arbitrarily rule you out of order and demand silence - even if your speaking time had not yet run out.

So there you have it. By edict, the public that does not attend town board workshop meetings will never know what's going on nor how decisions were made or choices arrived at. They will find millions of their tax dollars spent and be forbidden to ask "where did it go?" unless they attend a workshop meeting, or two, or more.... one can never tell.

They cannot watch these meetings on Television and they cannot read the minutes. They can only hang their heads and cry.

If you think this policy is anti-democratic, please write to our Town Board and tell them to rescind this totalitarian edict.

Write to:

The Kent Town Board
Kent Town Hall
531 Route 52
Kent Lakes, NY 10512


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Wednesday, January 5, 2005