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Citizens shouldn’t feel intimidated at meetings

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There was a good citizen turnout at Lancaster County Council meeting on Monday, Sept 9. Thirteen people gave public comments, most opposing the Cluster Development Ordinance, some concerning other topics.
All comments were well-constructed, appropriate and spoken with respect.
We were asked to respectfully direct comments to council and not the audience. Unfortunately, the rules did not to apply to Council as the entire audience was loudly chastised by Councilwoman Charlene McGriff, whose tone was that of an irate parent scolding a 2-year-old, informing us that she “had a problem with misinformation,” and that now “it’s a sudden surprise and people are getting excited for nothing.”
Good communication, Ms. McGriff, starts with County Council.
When council provides a place where citizens can get timely, clear, consistent, well-written communication, there will be no miscommunication. Expecting citizens to read through 200-plus page agendas, track down their council member, or find the next small meeting is not good communication. Suggestions: Monthly columns in this newspaper, and a place on the county website where work in progress is posted in everyday language. A different format at council meetings would help with comments aligned to topics, and allowed to be given after the topic so people can respond accordingly.
We need an advisory board where citizens and council can discuss topics well ahead of decision-making deadlines.
Many citizens did not speak at the meeting because they feel intimidated going before county officials. Ms. McGriff certainly confirmed their fears. An apology is due to the public.
 
Barbara Bartos
Indian Land