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VIDEO: Bloomingdale Council Imposes Limits on Public Comment

Commenters will no longer be able to engage in dialogue directly with council and be limited to five minutes each, speaking only once.

After called the measure "offensive" the borough council adopted a resolution to limit the amount of time a person can speak during public comment periods to five minutes, allowing each person to come to the podium just one time, and not allowing the public to have dialogue directly with the council without directing comments to the chair of the meeting, or the mayor.

Council President Linda Huntley cited other towns, such as Wayne, Little Falls, Clifton and West Milford, and said that the council has done research and found that other municipalities have similar bylaws in place and that their no-dialogue policies prevent council meetings from becoming "unruly," as Huntley said Bloomingdale's council meetings have become.

"We are here for the public. They should be able to say what they want, when they want, however many times they want-that's who we represent. And stifling them and not engaging is just outright ludicrous, rude and insulting to the people who put you here," the mayor said Tuesday.

Huntley said the meetings should be conducted in a "professional and polite manner" and that "the public comment periods are to permit the residents to voice their opinions, not to permit them to argue, debate and then again come back with another opinion on different items."

Huntley said the council does want to hear the public's opinion, and that the two public comment periods would remain in place, but that she hopes the change allows the public to express themselves while helping "expedite" the meetings.

Two residents spoke their minds about the new bylaw. Check out our video above to see what they had to say.

Winnie O'Leary May 11, 2011 at 02:04 PM
My government has limited my voice. Any way you look at it, and with whatever perceived rational, we have been dismissed. This is a slippery slope and I am embarrassed that my town council felt this was in anyway a solution. Winnie O'Leary
Debbie O'Neill May 11, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Winnie - could not agree more; however, for the record, your Town Council did not feel this was a solution - Linda Huntley, Linda Shortman, and Jo-Ann Pituch did. I certainly hope that they don't dislike any of the books in the library - they may decide their next act will be a book burning.
Shelli Taggart May 11, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Use your voices next election to remove these bacward thinking candidates.
Chuck Finley May 11, 2011 at 04:07 PM
I'm not a resident of Bloomingdale, but have been sitting in on many council meetings since just before Jon Dunleavy had taken office. What I have noticed is the lack of decorum among some of the council members. The arguing that takes place is not just between residents and one of three council members, but also among council members themselves. Lead by example, folks. These council members are always on the offensive. Rather than listening or trying to resolve an issue, they basically wait for the resident to stop talking and then just reiterate, in a demeaning manner, their original point without adding anything or acknowledging the public comment. As far as limiting public comment, I CAN see the council's frustration at times. Not allowing dialog with the council is really a childish way of dealing with the issue. What is the council afraid of? Dialog is how things get done. If you limit the comments, all that is left of the council meetings is the bickering between members, although entertaining, isn't the point of the meetings. Money is a hot point with town, as it is with the public. Just randomly cutting to get to the magic number is not the smart way of handling a financial crisis. I don't think I've seen any examples of generating revenue, just cutting. There is no forward thinking. If the council and public aren't working together, then it's not working at all.
Karen May 11, 2011 at 06:12 PM
The public has elected all of you and they should be allowed to address the council in a public session.I don't think that you give the citizens of Bloomingdale enough credit. We can speak without being "unruly". I have seen some of the council members behaving "unruly" at times. Do you have different rules for yourselves?

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