Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — TOWN OF LOCKPORT –– David J. Mongielo was removed from a Lockport Town Board meeting Wednesday night, following a public comment period.
Speaking during the comment period, Mongielo questioned the wages of town officials which will rise 2 percent in the 2013 budget. Next, he spoke about the November DWAI acquittal of Town Attorney Daniel Seaman. Mongielo charged Seaman got off because of his political influence.
Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith cut Mongielo off, citing Mongielo’s comments were a personal attack. Smith directed Mongielo to return to his seat or he would be removed from the meeting or arrested.
“You’re limiting free speech,” Mongielo said.
After being told again, Mongielo kept talking and was escorted out of Lockport Town Hall.
At its regular monthly meeting, the Town Board offers a period of time for residents to ask questions, air concerns or offer comments. There is no law that requires governments to hold public comment periods.
The town does have a policy in place for the comment period. According to the policy speakers have five minutes to speak and all comments must be directed to the board as a whole. The speaker must also stay on topic, “which is to comment on town policies, finances, procedures, etc.”
The policy also states: “If comments are made from the floor, or if any speaker uses inappropriate language or becomes abusive or unruly, or personally attacks any person, you will be cut off and may not be recognized in the future for public participation.”
Still, being removed from the meeting came as a surprise to Mongielo.
“I didn’t think they’d go to that extent,” he said.
Councilman Mark C. Crocker said Mongielo’s actions were a bad example of contact between the public and government. Town officials encourage free speech and opinions on town issues, Crocker said. If there is a charge of corruption, prove it, the councilman said.