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More Time Needed to Speak at Public Meetings, Resident Says

A resident asks the Abington Board of Commissioners to allow more time for public comment.

Is three minutes enough?

Abington resident Paul Morse took to the microphone during last week’s board of commissioners meeting. Setting his own timer, Morse complained about not getting enough time to speak during a meeting in December on the “Wawa ordinance” — a meeting in which he was physically removed by Abington Police.

“I’d like to request the current board of commissioners take into account, starting tonight, that everyone be given sufficient time to present their views … After all, you’re elected to represent we, the citizens of Abington township, not to dictate to us,” Morse said.

[See the video ... it's about three minutes.]

Morse also said that during the December meeting, 10 residents “could have yielded their time” to him, giving him 30 minutes to speak. 

The board typically gives residents about three minutes to speak publicly on a topic. But, according to township manager Michael LeFevre, the township’s rules of procedure for meetings — adopted in October 2005 — do not specify the length of time an individual is permitted to speak.

LeFevre also said that the "three-minute rule" is similar other municipalities' guidelines on speaking. 

During the meeting last week, commissioner Robert Wachter held up white sheets of paper indicating how much time each resident had left to speak; the role was formerly held by now-president Peggy Myers.

waldo von erich February 11, 2013 at 04:44 PM
yes their should be a longer time period 3 mins is too short , question will be what should the time lenght be? i as a taxpaying resident feel the people who want speak are sometimes being verbally mistreated . all you have to do is look at the township personnel sitting at the meetings, including commissioners and look at their facial expressions , watch the poor quality video and audio of these meetings. the playback is horrible and we pay someone to take care of this .kudos to laura lehmann for standing up to the board of commissioner, my hope is one day to vote for her as commissioner and love to see her as board president , laura you got my vote and my familys votes too.
Cadillac Man February 13, 2013 at 01:34 PM
If I'm pissed off about something going on in my neighborhood, I need more then three minutes to vent! Maybe 15? But it's there job as elected officials to listen... No matter how long!!! I pay your salary!
Michael Curtis Sr February 13, 2013 at 08:29 PM
Just because other municipalities " restrict " their constituents and freedom of speech to 3 minutes, Does that mean Abington needs to do the same? Not no, but hell no, but they do it anyway. Politicians don't want to have a " Dialog / Conversation " at public meetings, They don't want people to show up and ask questions. let alone give answers. So many people in this township are so discontented with the Commissioners. There is no " debate " and that was seen in the WAWA case. All those that spoke against it didn't mean a thing, was it not 7 Commissioners who over ruled everyone and said it was a go to build? Remember these words " We work for you, come to us your commissioners if you have a problem " yea, right !! That was stated by many of the commissioners who are on the board now. I agree with Cadillac Man, 3 minutes is not going to cut it.
waldo von erich February 14, 2013 at 03:13 PM
micheal, IAGREE with you when you say people are disconnected with their township commissioners , the only time i see my commissioner is when its election time and he is going door to door to get your vote for himself or another candidate running for office . OH YES i will hear that all the commissioners have an open door policy for communication , yet what i see on channel 43 the at meeting, is a whole another story. its my hope that all commissioner and township workers realize they WORK FOR US THE TAXPAYER .hopefully they will show more consideration when on live t v. A picture is worth a thousand words . just look at the video ...........
Kathy Adlam March 24, 2013 at 03:17 PM
It's about time you get over this vendetta against Lora Lehman. You are obsessed. Waldo is right. Give her the credit and respect for having the guts to stand up to the board. Every response I've seen thus far has always been you and a few others belittling her. Enough is enough. We are not in 8th grade anymore. And YES, there needs to be more than 3 minutes to state your concerns in these meetings. If there are so many people who are there, wishing to make a point, then obviously there is a problem with the current handling of the situation. You can't expect anyone to provide specific details in 3 minutes. If the Commissioner & board are paid positions, then since WE PAY YOUR SALARY, you are obligated to listen. I don't know what the time limit should be, because I know that if given the chance, some people will go on and on. I'd say at least 10 minutes and if repetition occurs, then the time is up. What happened with the gentleman who was dragged out at the meeting a few months ago is a disgrace.

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