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Letter: Yorktown Republicans Trying To Kill Public Comment

Councilwoman Susan Siegel
Councilwoman Susan Siegel Photo Credit: yorktownny.org

YORKTOWN, N.Y. — The Yorktown Daily Voice accepts signed and original letters to the editor up to 350 words. To submit a letter, email yorktown@dailyvoice.com.

To the Editor:

It’s obvious that the Republican members on the Yorktown Town Board have thin skins.

They don’t like it when residents have complaints.

They don’t like to be criticized for a failure to enforce the town’s laws.

They don’t like being asked uncomfortable questions.

And they absolutely don’t like the Courtesy of the Floor portion of televised Town Board meetings.

Courtesy of the Floor is the long-standing Yorktown tradition of giving residents the opportunity to address the Town Board — on any issue — for three minutes at the beginning of the board meeting and three minutes at the end of the meeting.

So this is what the Republican majority on the Town Board has done, first to curtail Courtesy, and now, to try to kill it altogether.

In 2015, the Republicans eliminated the second Courtesy of the Floor segment.

That meant that people couldn’t ask questions or comment on votes that had taken place earlier in the evening.

In 2016, the Republicans moved Courtesy to the very last item on the meeting agenda, which meant that someone who wanted to ask a question or bring an issue to the board’s attention, or the attention of the television audience, had no idea how long they’d have to wait before being able to address the board — 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes.

The change has had its desired effect.

Fewer residents now stay to the uncertain end of the meeting to speak at Courtesy.

And now, the Republicans are proposing to create a Quality of Life Committee as a substitute for Courtesy.

Their justification is Supervisor Michael Grace thinks Courtesy is taking up too much board time and Councilman Bernard thinks the public is just trying to make councilmen look bad.

The truth is Councilman Bernard and Supervisor Grace weren’t joking when Bernard said at an untelevised meeting, “Does (creating the committee) mean we can do away with Courtesy of the Floor?”

And Supervisor Grace responded: “You struck gold.”

It’s the Republican version of an open and transparent government.

Councilwoman Susan Siegel

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