Cecil Township Board of Supervisors on Monday approved a series of policies in the hopes they will bring “civil order” to its monthly meetings.
Supervisor Tom Casciola on Monday night presented the policies to the board—including one that addresses how board members should interact with members of the staff at public meetings.
Casciola indicated that past actions and comments made by board members at public meetings could constitute a “hostile work environment" that could open the township up to possible litigation, Manager Don Gennuso confimed Tuesday morning.
"The board as a whole will always show respect to its staff, and will never discuss negative personnel issues in public which embarrass or disrespect a staff member," the policy reads.
Casciola also presented a commendation to the administrative and professional staff thanking them for their hard work.
The policies and commendation all passed by a vote of 3-1. Supervisor Elizabeth Cowden voted no on the measures, and board President Mike Debbis was absent.
Part of the policies and procedures also sets forth how the board chairman would conduct meetings.
“It’s not going to be a free-for-all anymore,” Gunusso said of the meetings.
"The chairman will extend every courtesy in accommodating freedom of expression by citizens," the policy reads.
But it continues: "Constructive criticism is acceptable in a democratic society, but public or slanderous attacks on individuals present or otherwise are never productive and will not be indulged."
Also off the table?
"Making accusations ... will not be permitted during the course of public comment. Charges or accusations made privately against staff will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. Any resultant legal outcomes will be acted on in a public forum," the policy states.
And the approved policy also called for police intervention when necessary.
"In cases where ongoing disruptions jeopardizes timely conduct of township business, or an imminent threat of violence arises, the chair may utilize police presence to restore order. The chair will first make use of the gavel, or make a call for recess," the policy indicates. "Police involvement will be employed on an extremely limited basis and only as a last resort."
"It just had to be addressed," Casciola said when reached Tuesday afternoon. "We owe respect to everybody."
Cowden could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
What do you think of the new policies? Tell us in the comments.