Rules of Public Comment Brought Up Again at Council

By Chris Paul

The rules on how public comment is allowed to be conducted was once again addressed at the Town Council meeting on Monday night, April 10.
Resident Glenn Douglas, began the discussion and spoke on a number of issues he felt needed to be addressed by the council.
He began by saying he was happy to see that the council has started to record their decisions through a role call vote, mentioning that the rule was established in the Town Charter. He added, “This is the first time in 16-years that I’ve seen that,” referring to the voting method.
Douglas also pointed out some confusion regarding the new rules for Public Comment, saying that he was told the rules were adopted in 2017, but after some research, found they were actually adopted in 2018 and haven’t been readopted since then.
He then cited that the Charter requires the board to adopt the rules of the Council each year within ten days of the election. He added that since the rules have not been voted on and felt they cannot be considered valid.
Douglas also took exception to a “Letter to the Editor” written by the Town Manager, Mike Malaguti. The part of the letter Douglas was most concerned about read, “The loudest voices at this moment seek chaos as an end in itself, and are employing conspiracy theories, name calling, and misinformation to drown out everyone else,” and “We need the reasonable middle to fill more of the room, literally and figuratively‚Ķbecause if you don’t, Londonderry’s most divisive voices surely will.”
Douglas said that when he read the letter, “I almost fell off my chair.”
He admitted that he must be considered one of these “divisive voices,” but most of the information he has been discussing has been received through 91A requests and there has been no “name calling.”
Resident, Jonathan Esposito, also echoed Douglas’ sediments, saying there has never been a vote on the rules of order by the newly elected board and felt the new rules posted on the town website are not valid until they are voted on.
Councilor, Jim Butler, rebutted some of the comments made after public comment was closed by Chairman, John Farrell.
He suggested that the video made of the meetings should be entered into the record as part of the minutes of the meeting. He added, “So when someone accuses us of not doing something, everyone can see on the video what’s going on and we correct some of these problems.”
Butler also suggested that those who have problems with the way things are being run to come back with solutions. “Because I’m tired of listening to a small group of people.”
Throughout Butlers comments, the people whom the comments were directed at tried to respond from the audience, but each time they did, they were gaveled down by the Chairman until Esposito left.
Just before the meeting adjourned, Farrell addressed the issues that have been frequently coming up about council procedures.
Farrell said, “It’s very apparent I have my haters and my naysayers and they have a lot to say about it. They believe we’re corrupt, they believe we’re stealing, and there’s a conflict of interest. They believe all these things are happening.” He added, “Folks, this isn’t an easy job. People give their time. This is a volunteer position and we’re trying to do our best job within the limits we have. We always try to do the right thing.”

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