During their September 17 public meeting, Northampton Borough Council voted to ban non-emergency telecommunications during public meetings. The issue was broached after Councilman Robert McHale called into council’s September 3 meeting while on vacation.
“We should be here as much as physically possible,” said Councilman Thomas Gehringer.
“What if we all call out?” he continued. “There is no quorum [and] we are not getting things done.”
Councilman Tony Pristash agreed, adding that he finds telecommunications in the meetings distracting.
“Why would you not want a councilman [who is out of town], who is interested in being part of a borough meeting, not be involved?” asked McHale.
He said the issue should be left up to the borough’s voters. If they are unhappy with a council member’s attendance, they can speak with their vote.
He added that banning telecommunications limits participation of council members and symbolizes that they would rather have a council person be “vacant” than involved, even if that is over the phone.
When the issue came to a vote, Councilmen Pristash, Gerhringer, Kenneth Hall, and Keith Piescienski voted for the ban. Councilmen McHale, Anthony Lopsinzski, Sr., and Anthony Lopsonzski, Jr. voted against.
“Any kind of communication…is a good thing to have,” said Lopsonzski, Sr.
“I find it very, very disturbing that this council would prohibit an individual who wants to take time out of his vacation…to call into a council meeting…so that the individual stays informed,” said McHale.
Telecommunications will be allowed in emergency situations.
In other news, council voted unanimously in favor of holding trick-or-treat on October 31 from 6 until 8 p.m., provided that participants follow CDC guidelines.
Finally, a public meeting concerning MS4 improvements to Dry Run Creek will be held on October 1 at 6:45 p.m.