POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Schuylkill County is changing the way people can submit comments during commissioner meetings.
The commission will no longer take public comment during their meetings. Chairman Baron “Boots” Hetherington says it’s because commentators were getting out of hand.
“Call me thin skinned, or being called a Nazi and be like Hitler is not appropriate,” Hetherington said.
People want to comment have to submit an email that will then be read during the meeting. Nicole Cicero, a Pottsville resident sees both sides.
“It limits some of the back and forth that can happen. So, while it may be a little unfair to some people who have valid points, but it’s definitely not a terrible idea,” Cicero said.
Commissioners voted on it. Although Commissioner Gary Hess agrees that the name calling and back and forth shouldn’t happen, he voted against it.
“Our citizens are stakeholders. We work for the people and if you cut that off it’s not a good thing,” Hess said.
In-person public comment transitioned to calling in on those Wednesday morning meetings because of the pandemic. Commissioner Hetherington says other close by counties, including Berks, adopted the same system and that’s where he got the idea.
“I’ll read what it is, but I’m not going to comment on it. If it’s a personnel issue I’m not going to read it, if it’s a slanderous comment about someone, or their background, or they’ve done,” Hetherington said.
Commissioner Hess believes it’s their duty to answer people’s questions at some people.
“In a proper decorum, that you’re not calling names, and so forth, get to the point. Explain your situation or your concern and then we can move on, also to answer those questions too,” Hess said.
Next week will be the first time commissioners run the meeting with written comment. Schuylkill County residents have until 3 p.m. Tuesday to submit a comment that will be read at the Wednesday morning meeting. If the commissioners receive it after that time, it will be read at the following meeting.