Hagerstown briefs

July 28, 2005|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

City's public comment policy is criticized

Some criticism of the city's public comment policy was voiced Tuesday night.

The policy limits citizens' comments to five minutes during the city's public comment sessions and hearings. The city also tries to limit the number of speakers who are part of one group.

Jim Laird, who lives outside city limits on Maplewood Drive, spoke before the mayor and council Tuesday evening, and said he was cut off at 2 minutes, 40 seconds, at a previous meeting. He said the city's policy was inconsistent.

"We are here because we either have problems with the city or have suggestions for improving government," Laird said.

To some laughter from the audience, he said, "I highly recommend the city purchase a timing device ... so the mayor can easily keep correct time and listen to the speaker."


Trump also chuckled at Laird's comments, and apologized to Laird for not letting him finish at the previous meeting.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh, who also questioned the policy, on Tuesday read a letter in its entirety about Washington County Hospital that was not finished by the author last month because of the five-minute rule.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner suggested the issue be taken up at a future work session.

Nigh pokes fun at council with sign

Sporting a handmade sign on the table in front of her during Tuesday night's council meeting, Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said she was trying to add a little humor to the latest discussions on Washington County Hospital's proposed move, which hangs in the balance of local politicians' decisions.

Her sign said: "The Trumpetts; featuring K. Aleshire on the zone xylophone & L. Metzner on the hospital harp," referring to councilmen Kristin B. Aleshire and Lewis C. Metzner.

Asked before Tuesday's meeting about the sign, Nigh said, "It's a new addition. Do we not laugh at ourselves?"

She later explained during the meeting that the sign was a reference to a tongue-in-cheek piece last week by Herald-Mail columnist Tim Rowland discussing the relationship between the council and the mayor.

"As far as our dance attire, we'll address that later," Nigh said.

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