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Mount Pleasant residents by village ordinance are allowed to participate in the discussion of agenda items, but since the 2013 election of Village President Mark Gleason, citizens are only allowed to speak during the public comment portion of board meetings, and trustees are not allowed to answer back.
Over the past year, residents have occasionally – usually during the public comment period – brought up the change, citing ordinance 2-43 (5) (d) and are asking why they’re no longer allowed to participate. The ordinance reads:
After the village board’s discussion of any agenda item, any speaker recognized by the
chair may address the village board. Speakers addressing the village board shall state
their name and address before addressing the village board. A speaker addressing the
village board shall try to limit their remarks to three minutes. It shall be the prerogative of
the chair to allow additional time if circumstances warrant.
At the board meeting Monday Trustee Don Schulz raised the subject as a question about the lack of resident participation, but Gleason reasserted that how he runs the meeting is his prerogative and the subject is not up for discussion. (Click here to listen to the exchange at the 2:09:42 mark.)
We did reach out to Gleason, but he had not returned our call as of Wednesday evening.
Part of the issue is that most village committees and commissions meet during the day, and if residents work first shift, they can’t attend. Village board meetings, then, are the only way for citizens to interact in person with trustees as topics are being debated and discussed.
Trustee John Hewitt told Racine County Eye that Gleason has set a precedent to better keep meetings under control. He admitted that with most committee meetings held during the day when residents are at work, board meetings are the only time citizens can actively participate in village government. Still, he’s okay with the way things are going.
“If there was public pressure we would revisit this and have a discussion,” he said. “Maybe Mark has taken liberties with how meetings should be conducted, and he has bent his rule from time-to-time, but overall I don’t have an issue with tighter board meetings.”
Do you care about this change to the way village board meetings are run? Why or why not?