I find it ironic that the day we are honoring those who have fought to defend our freedoms, I read in a local publication that the Common Council in Gloversville, N.Y., has decided to ban public comment at council meetings “until further notice.”
Proponents of the ban say the council needs rules in place when it comes to public comment. I find it ironic that the council acted on the ban after the mayor of that city appeared at his first meeting since being indicted on several felony charges.
Granted, allowing the public to speak at public meetings is a privilege and not mandated by state law (although it should be). And yes, there are times when people abuse that privilege, such as an example cited in the story, when someone went before the Gloversville Common Council, talked about his dead cat and then played a cartoon-like recording of a cat laughing.
But local governments are elected to serve the public, and the public should have every right to speak before their elected bodies. And more importantly, those elected to office should be courteous enough to listen to what’s being said.
There’s nothing wrong with setting guidelines for public comment, but to ban them outright sends a message that you really could care less about the people you were elected to represent.