Not only is Schuylkill County Commissioners Chairman Boots Hetherington choosing not to read public comments critical of his administration’s policies and decisions, public comments aren’t being recorded on official meeting minutes.
This has been going on for more than 3 months.
We just reported that Hetherington is also refusing to read comments he feels are redundant or inappropriate in nature during meetings.
Schuylkill County Commissioners Striking Public Comments from Meeting Minutes
The Canary analyzed official minutes from Schuylkill County Commissioners meetings through 2020, and here’s what we found:
Public comments were included on official meeting minutes for sessions held up to and including Sept. 2, 2020. After that, they’re not included.
It’s as if they never happened.
Now, this may sound like a picayune issue but it really underscores the effort being taken by the currently assembled board of Schuylkill County Commissioners to squash any sort of dissent. Nearly all the comments submitted for these meetings were negative in tone, very critical of the Commissioners’ actions.
Should anyone in the future choose to look at these minutes, they’ll never know of some of the discontent that existed among the public toward the Commissioners.
Erasing the Dissent
“It’s very 1984,” someone who’s read that book might say.
Here’s a look at the last 20 meetings Schuylkill County Commissioners have had and whether or not their official meeting minutes include public comments. It’s a pretty simple table showing a clear time when the minutes no longer included public comments and a definite pattern that showed minutes prior to Sept. 9 did include those comments on the official record of the meeting:
|Meeting Date||Comments in Minutes?|
In case you’re wondering, a clerk records every County public meeting. They take that recording an put together a written timeline of the events of that meeting. Discussions are included as are roll call votes. So, the public can see how each Commissioner voted on a particular issue.
At the next public meeting, the Commissioners review the official minutes and then approve them for the record.
Schuylkill County Self-Congratulatory Committee Notes Included
But while mostly negative comments from the public are being omitted from the official record, the County chooses to include the minutes of its self-congratulatory committee. Any time someone from the County had something nice to say about another County employee, those comments are included in the official minutes.
And any time a Commissioner wanted to virtue signal and thank people like first responders or “front line workers” or some other group they feel needs pandering, those comments are included in the minutes, too.
So, let the record show, the County is very proud of the work it does.
For instance, on Oct. 14, the minutes read: “COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR GARY BENDER THANKED PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR PAUL FETTEROLF FOR ARRANGING FOR THE NEW SOUND SYSTEM IN THE COMMISSIONERS’ BOARD ROOM.”
But what you won’t read on the official meeting minutes is that time Schuylkill Clerk of Courts compared Hetherington to Hitler for his proposed public comment rules: Schuylkill County Commissioners Think Twice on Comments Rules – Boots Compared to Hitler
The Commissioners approved their new public comment rules back on Oct. 21.
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