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Residents Threaten Legal Action over Robinson Commenting Policy

Board of Commissioners chairman said the new policy for commenting at public meetings helps maintain order.

Robinson residents said they may take legal action against the township's Board of Commissioners regarding its newly approved rules for speaking at municipal meetings. 

Two residents were turned away from speaking Monday night during the township's Board of Commissioners business meeting and directed to address the board after the meeting's adjournment. One man was led away from the meeting by a officer for interrupting board chairman Samuel Abatta.

Last month, the board adopted a policy that requires residents to sign in prior to meetings and limits public comment to items on the agenda. All other comments must be made after the meeting's adjournment. 

Several members of the public, including former Commissioner Jerry Brouker, said the board's new policy is in violation of Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act. 

"I don't believe any of you have a full understanding of the sunshine law," Brouker said following the business meeting's adjournment. "These rules are set up to harm people like me. To try to suppress our speech." 

Linda Jackubec, chairperson for the Republican Committee of Robinson Township, said a group of township residents have contacted the American Civil Liberties Union about the new policy. 

"But if we do not hear back from them shortly we will be seeking our own legal representation," Jackubec said. "We also have a petition circulating around the community." 

Residents asked the board to include non-agenda items during the regular meeting and that those comments be recorded for the township's public access television station. 

Abatta told residents that the policy allows for more efficient meetings. He said members of the public could contact him with non-agenda concerns prior to the meeting. 

"This keeps it very business-like, very in order," Abatta said at the meeting. "We don't want a circus. We don't want people coming with personal attacks at commissioners.

"No personal attacks. No making false statements about someone. No screaming from the back of the room. No yelling and running out of the room," he said. 

moon mom 1013 June 05, 2012 at 12:26 PM
This is the most ridiculous thing ever! I'm not even a Robinson Resident! If these commissioners can't handle the heat, GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN!
Vicki June 06, 2012 at 12:16 AM
I totally agree with what Sue said and I'm not a Robinson resident either. Commissioners are there to listen to their residents - or should be doing so for that matter. Why are they working for township if they can't listen to others opinions, provide help & resources etc?
Louisa June 06, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Our superintendent in Moon attempted this last year, after the public backlash she dropped the idea and the school board president at the time, Mr. Scappe, claimed it wasn't his idea and disassociated himself from it as soon as he saw how irate the taxpayers and parents were over this issue. Keep the pressure on these commissioners and they'll drop the idea too.
lynn June 06, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Mr.Scappe also left the Moon School District with a $9,000,000 fund balance, which many, many other school districts would love to have. He also implemented the plan that lead to new facilities, which were desperately needed, along with implementing All Day Kindergarten this coming year. All this and NO tax increase for the past three years, and no teacher or prgram cuts! Terrific job Mr.Scappe!
Louisa June 06, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I guess over taxing the residents, that is how you amass fund balances, and leaving us with gobs of debt to the tune of about $130 million dollars is okay with you Lynn. Don't worry Mr. Scappe's taxation and debt policies will all get a fresh aring this fall when he tries to unseat Mark Mustio. I admit the guy has a lot of chutzpah getting tossed off of the school board one year and running for state legislature the next! To all those in Robinson who might be in the legislative district Mr. Scappe would like to represent, you can read all about the Scappe debt here: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/debt-taxes-come-with-new-high-school-263566/?p=1
lynn June 06, 2012 at 10:26 PM
And Moon has wonderful new buildings to show for it. So you prefer that the kids go to school in crumbling, mold-infested buildings that are out-dated? And the reason that the debt is so high is that the prior board cancelled the projects, costing the taxpayers OVER $25 MILLION dollars. And keep in mind that Moon's millage is among the LOWEST in Allegheny County! Mark Scappe is exactly the type of person that we want to replace Mustio. After all, Mr.Scappe never ran a racist campaign! Nor did he vote for a midnight pay increase for himself, it was Mustio who did all of that.
Teri Shaw June 06, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Louisa the Robinson residents understand what canceled project cost. They went through it as well. Mr. Scappe did not cause the delays and cancellation of project costing 25 million. I agree Lynn Mr. Scappe will represent us well. After all the waste Mr. Scappe did not raise taxes the last two years he was on the board. Now he left the district in great shape with a 9.3 million dollar fund balance. This current board did not have to raise taxes again due to his guidance. Louisa saids like sour grapes to me. Mr. Scappe will represent us well. Go Scappe
Steve Taylor June 07, 2012 at 11:01 AM
Leaving a 9 million dollar surplus is a sign of poor government. In good government that money would be in the hands of the tax payers not the school district. In my Montour School District we had a 28.7 milion dollar surplus that no one knew about but the chairman of the democrat committee(John Watcho). Non of the money has been return to the tax payers .
Louisa June 07, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Teri, I found a news article to support my point of view can you locate any accurate report on the cost of cancelling the over budget school projects? Please do your research and post it. I believe you may be a victim of the over inflated claims of the Scappe campaign. Also if he saved us sooooo much money why was he overwhelmingly defeated last fall? The 9 million doallar fund balance accrured after his votes to raise our taxes 5 or 6 times during his 12 years on the board. Steve is right these budget surpluses seem to grow under local democrats - I guess it gives you more money to spend on various projects with their "favored" contractors and consultants.
lynn June 07, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Steve, the money is earmarked for educational purposes, facilities upkeep, and pension costs, which are scheduled to rise dramatically in the next few years. Keep in mind that the fund balance has been built up in order to avoid massive future tax increases. And the balance has been built without raising taxes in three years. Pretty effective financial management! You can't even compare Moon to the fiasco in Montour, that's like apples and oranges.
Teri Shaw June 07, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Louisa, I got my information during a board meeting which Mr. Bennett stated. This was give a few years ago. In my opinion, Mr. Scappe lost the election due to the lies which the new board members spread and a low voter turnout. We can now see Mr. Scappe was right. No Tax Increase for the third year, an Iindependent Audit which was conducted a Month ago and indicated 9.2 million in fund balance, New Buildings, New Curriculum, Contracts settled for 5 years, No teacher furloughs. I think He has done an outstanding Job. The Fund balance needs to grow to off set future tax increase due to the pension costs. This seems to me that a plan was in place and it is working as planned. Great Job Mr. Scappe

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