County Commission Again Halts Public Comments at Meetings - The Missourian: County

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County Commission Again Halts Public Comments at Meetings

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Posted: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 4:00 pm | Updated: 3:11 pm, Thu Oct 24, 2013.

Only three weeks after adopting a new policy for public comments, the Franklin County Commission has suspended it.

Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer Tuesday said the commission has postponed discussion of items submitted by members of the public.

The policy, adopted on June 12, allowed citizens to submit requests to be heard at formal commission meetings.

One citizen said suspending the discussion violates the policy.

Eric Reichert, Villa Ridge, a regular critic of the commission, took exception to the decision to suspend the comment policy. He said in a prepared statement that the county’s policy “clearly states that any discussion items presented by the public can only be postponed until the commission obtains more information.”

The commission’s order states that the commission “reserves the right to postpone any such request to a later meeting if it is necessary to gather appropriate information with which to respond.”

Reichert said commissioners refused to respond to his request to discuss the feasibility of holding a public meeting in the evening to discuss the possibilities of refinancing the county’s debt.

He called the commission’s most recent decision an “edict to avoid a legitimate discussion item.”

Reichert said in order to suspend the policy, the commission needs to pass another order amending it.

Griesheimer Tuesday said he would allow only comments for agenda items.

Reichert asked to speak, but was not allowed to do so.

Reichert was one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed earlier this year against the county over a commission order to refinance tens of millions of dollars in leasehold bonds. The lawsuit challenged the commission’s authority to allow Griesheimer to sign documents furthering the refinancing on behalf of the commission.

A judge dismissed that suit last month.

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