Residents have noticed that the agenda for tonight's Macungie Council meeting -- scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Macungie Institute -- has been altered slightly regarding the order in which the usual items appear.
In particular, public comment, which usually occurs at the beginning of the meeting, has been moved to item 10 of 14. Which is to say that it has been moved almost to the very end of the agenda.
It does appear on the agenda before the executive session component.
While it's very true that lately public comment has taken up quite a bit of time on the front end of the meeting, some residents feel that moving it to the end is yet another attempt on the part of council and Borough Manager Chris Boehm to silence the voices of the people who elected them -- on council's part -- and/or the people they serve -- on the borough manager's part.
It's also fair to say that Macungie Council meetings run late into the evening, sometimes to 11 p.m. or later. The reason for the late hour of the meetings could be due, in part to the lengthy public comment segments. It's true, too, that some of council's executive sessions -- when council steps out of the public arena to privately discuss real estate, legal and a few other specifically defined matters they are allowed to discuss in private -- have run an hour or longer.
By the end of some meetings, the number of members of the public who attend usually dwindles.
Some have said that moving the meeting's public comment segment to the end of the meeting is an attempt to stave off the voices of the people until most of them have given up and gone home.
Repeated calls and email to Boehm and Council President Jean Nagle were not returned.