By LISA CAPOBIANCO
After months of discussion, the Plainville Town Council voted unanimously last Monday to approve the filming of Citizen’s Forum during one meeting each month.
During a meeting last week, the Town Council agreed to pay for the taping of Citizen’s Forum once a month as well as forums that take place when there is only one meeting in a given month. The cost to film would be $110 per meeting, including three hours of taping, which would be the minimum charge, reported Town Manager Robert Lee during a Council meeting in July. Currently, several Plainville residents have raised donations to help organize the filming of the forum. For months, local residents voiced their concerns about the way Citizen’s Forum is handled during meetings, urging the Council to cablecast both Forums held each month.
John Kisluk said he would be satisfied with the town paying for one taping per month, but will still continue to pay for Citizen’s Forum that takes place during the second meeting of each month.
“I’m going to keep doing it—I’m not going to stop,” said Kisluk, who supported having the Citizen’s Forum take place in the middle of the meeting instead of the beginning. “I think it’s really important that people who want to watch this can see it.”
Marilyn Shorette also said she accepts the town’s agreement to pay for the taping of Citizen’s Forum once a month.
“We all need to find a way to work together, and everybody has to do some bending,” said Shorette. “I still want two meetings…[but] if that’s what it takes to get things underway, I’d be willing to do that as long as the council keeps its mind open to down the road, perhaps, doing both… It’s all of us working together—we have to do this for the betterment of everybody.”
Resident Sal Palazzolo said he still supports the taping of Citizen’ Forum twice a month, and added the majority of people who watch the televised meetings are senior citizens. During the meeting he read aloud a letter written by a senior citizen of Plainville, thanking another resident for speaking before the Council at Citizen’s Forum.
“This should be filmed for the citizens of Plainville,” said Palazzolo, noting how he became more interested in local politics when he got older. “One is good, but two would be a lot better.”
During the meeting, Town Councilor Quinn Christopher said she hopes that by televising one meeting, the council will consider having both Forums filmed each month.
“I think it’s appropriate, I think it’s fair, I think the citizens deserve it,” said Christopher. “It does bother me that they are paying to have it done. I am still going to fight down the road to get both filmed, whether we pay for both or we start the meetings at 7:30.”
Councilor Chris Wazorko said during the meeting that he is in favor of moving the Citizen’s Forum during the regular meeting time at 7:30 p.m., so it would not cost anything for the town and Plainville residents.
Plainville resident Mark Chase volunteers his time at 7:30 p.m. to film the meeting.
“I really think ultimately that’s our best direction to go—to actually move Citizen’s Forum so we don’t have to pay for it,” said Wazorko. “We certainly have the resources to not pay for it. I still think there’s some more discussion that needs to go on with this.”
Council Chairwoman Kathy Pugliese said the taping of Citizen’s Forum is a reasonable compromise, and although she understands both sides of the situation, she also supports the original format of that portion of the meeting. In June, Pugliese proposed to consider taping Citizen’s Forum the first meeting of every month on weekly public access station Nutmeg TV. If one meeting would be scheduled in a given month, the Citizen’s Forum would still be filmed, according to the compromise. The compromise would allow residents who wish to share their concerns or ideas with the Council publicly, but may feel uncomfortable speaking in front of a camera.
“There is a purpose for it beginning at 7 p.m., there is a purpose for the format and the way it has been handled,” said Pugliese. “I think it’s actually still a very good format for people to come and speak to the Council. Filmed or not filmed, I think it has its own separate piece in our meeting, and it deserves to stay there.”
The Citizen’s Forum began in 2008 when the Town Council voted to move the start time of the meeting from 7:30 to 7 p.m. Since then, the forum took off for the first half hour of the meeting to give residents and taxpayers an opportunity to address the Council at the beginning of the meeting, allowing for interaction between citizens and councilors. At the time, the council placed limitations on public participation after 7:30 p.m., including one “Oral Petitions” that would allow residents to address items that would be voted on.
Comments? Email lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.
By LISA CAPOBIANCO