Niskayuna residents split on limiting speaking time at meetings


Several Niskayuna residents in letters addressed to the town board voiced their support for the town’s decision to recommend speakers limit their public comments at meetings to five minutes.
Two residents spoke against the decision at the board meeting Tuesday.
Supervisor Jaime Puccioni said the change is a balance between hearing people’s concerns and moving on to the business of the meeting.
The Schenectady City Council, Schenectady County Legislature and Niskayuna School Board all limit comments to three minutes, Puccioni said.
A little light now sits atop the podium, counting down a speaker’s time and turning from green, to yellow and finally red when the person’s time is up.
“We ask that when the light goes on you please wrap up your remarks,” she said.
Charles Piotrowski was one of several residents in favor of the time limit.
“Board meetings should be open to the public and the public should have an opportunity to express their opinion,” he said in his letter. “That said, in the spirit of equitable, efficient, and effective government the board should be able to limit the amount of time per speaker. Allowing the public to express their issues in under five minutes is more than adequate. Should the public desire to express themselves for a longer time, they may avail themselves of multiple physical and digital resources available in our area.”
Hayden Connors said the change was needed to make the meetings more effective and organized.
“I’ve noticed that comments are often too long and not on topic of actual town business,” he said in his letter. “I think the length and off-topic nature of these addresses limits the time of other residents who may want to talk about actual important town business.”
He also said there are other ways people can share their opinion with town board members.
“I want the Niskayuna town meetings to be known for meaningful, effective citizen participation, rather than for allowing unhinged behaviors to go unchecked,” Connors said.
But two residents are against the decision to limit speaking time.
“I feel that this is an insult to a taxpayer of 42 years in this town,” said Lorene Zabin.
Linda Rizzo also disagreed with the move. She said it shows a bigger issue because it wasn’t done with the consensus of the board.
Board member Jason Moskowitz indicated the change was not discussed with him
“Another board member told me that he found out after it had been implemented,” Rizzo said, not naming that board member.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

niskyperson January 26, 2022
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the town can have 2 comment periods, one limited in duration, and if seconded by another community member (or board member) the person should be able to speak for a longer time in a public forum after the meeting.