Macungie Council may be in Violation of State Law
Council President Jean Nagle changes the order of the meeting agenda without a vote, and that could be a problem.
A month ago, at the second monthly meeting of Macungie Council, Vice President Greg Hutchison was set to take over while President Jean Nagle was on vacation.
Ultimately the meeting was cancelled since a quorum could not be assembled, but in the process of preparing for the meeting, Hutchison dropped the public comment component of the Aug. 20 meeting to the end of the line up, just before executive session and adjournment.
For the Sept. 4 meeting, Nagle kept public comment at the end. Council members Christopher Becker, Joseph Sikorski and Debra Cope protested publicly.
And Monday night, Nagle again relegated public comment to the very end of the meeting.
But this time the agenda was on the agenda.
Cope said she had contacted the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs to research the issue.
"The president and vice president do not have the authority to change the order of an agenda," Cope said, clarifying that occasional agenda changes are made to accommodate people or groups.
But according to the PSAB, permanently changing the agenda without a council vote is illegal, Cope said.
Nagle told Cope she was wrong, that the council president could change the agenda because the president and vice president have the right to change the order so council can get on with the business of the borough in an orderly fashion.
Cope allowed as how the Monday's meeting and the Sept. 4 meeting were more orderly than when the public comment segment led the agenda.
"But it's just wrong to make people wait three or four hours before they can make a public comment," she said.
Becker agreed, saying there are many issues he has wanted to present to council, but the lengthy public comment portion of the meeting uses up the time he would rather be spending making Macungie a better place.
Becker doesn't like the unsuitable comments that have become more and more common at Macungie Borough Council meetings, but said he fundamentally agrees with Cope.
"But I got elected to hear the people. That's what i'm here for," Becker said, "I'm very upset with the conduct at some council meetings too, but it's wrong to make the public wait three hours to speak."
A motion was made and seconded to vote on whether to keep public comment to the end meeting or to restore it to the beginning, but Joseph Sikorski was absent, so the issue will be on the Oct. 2 agenda. Council will vote on it a the next meeting at which all members are present.