After being asked multiple times why I was the only councilman to vote NO on removing the second public comment period from the agenda, I feel the need to explain my vote. To explain, the public comment period is limited to 3 minutes. Mascoutah allowed 2 comment periods during council meetings. The first is required by statute and the second isn’t. In June of 2015 the then council members (Mayor Jerry Dougherty, Pat McMahan, Jack Wyant, Paul Schorr and Ben Grodeon) voted to change the ordinance comment to allow for the second period, to allow better, open communication.
I’m strongly opposed to limiting the citizens rights to confront our local, state or federal government electees. The First Amendment of The Constitution ensures citizens of that right. Just because we as councilmen don’t like what a citizen has to say about a situation or about the council’s actions or lack of, we should not deny citizens to be heard by changing an ordinance to quiet a few.
The council attempted to change the ordinance in October of 2022. At that time, I wasn’t on the council. I did, however, attend a council meeting and voiced my opposition to the removal of the second public comment period. At that meeting the mayor stated that it was to streamline the meetings. The ordinance wasn’t passed at that time. At the council’s last meeting on November 20, 2023, I again voiced my opinion as to why we should keep the second comment period, which fell on deaf ears. I was given a reason by the mayor that in the past 15 years or so no one has used the period.
I respect the views of all the council members and the reasons why they vote the way they do. On most issues that come before us the council is in unison because they are in the best interest of the citizens. I personally would like to see the second comment period reinstated.
Councilman Mike Baker