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Antrim supervisors undecided over adding time for questions

August 26, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Antrim Township Supervisors were undecided Tuesday whether they will or will not add time to regular agendas for the media to ask questions.

Township Administrator Brad Graham removed the press conference section from the agenda a few months ago in an attempt to foster better relations with the press, he said.

Even if the section no longer appears on the agenda, the press is able to ask questions after the meeting and make comments during public comment, Chairman Curtis Myers said.

Supervisor Sam Miller raised the issue Tuesday when he noticed that a press conference was not listed on the agenda, as it had been for years.

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Miller said he would like the press to ask questions first of the board then if more detail is needed to let Graham field their question.

None of Antrim's neighboring municipalities set aside time for press to ask questions, Myers said.

Often the press has questions for the full board, Supervisor James Byers said, adding that he would like to see the press back on the agenda.

Not every supervisor stays after the meeting, said Dan Pellicano, a resident of the township.

Pellicano chided the board for removing the section from its agendas while at the same time touting its commitment to transparency.

"You talk about transparency, but then you say to him (Sam) that he can stay and answer questions, that is flippant, to say the least," he said to Myers. "If you adjourn the meeting there is no onus on the board, any individual member to stay, for even a short press conference."

Myers, who was two hours late for the meeting, and Supervisor Rick Baer defended Graham's removal of the press conference portion of the meeting by accusing the press of asking unnecessary questions.

"A lot of times in these meetings they're passing notes back and forth and there's times they ask questions that was answered during the meeting," Baer said. "Why should we have to regurgitate?"

"It won't stop," Myers said. "One week it took me 10 minutes to get the press out of here so we could have an executive session. Plus we record the meetings."

Miller said that after listening to any lengthy meeting or presentation that questions would be warranted and advocated giving the media a place on the agenda to do so.

"Maybe they want to clairify something," he said. "Personally, I don't want Brad answering my comments, because you might say what I really wanted to say."

The board did not vote on the matter, but Myers did say in passing that the board would consider adding it at the next meeting.

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