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Cecil Supervisors Approve Policies to Bring 'Civil Order' to Meetings

Supervisor Tom Casciola presented the policies to the rest of the board during Monday night's meeting.

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.

John Rakoczy October 03, 2012 at 11:30 AM
One thing Cecil Township needs to change is: They need to let the general public that wants to speak about an issue not on the agenda speak at the beginning of the meeting not the end. The last meeting I attended there I had to sit quietly for 2 hours in 50 minutes before I was allowed to stand up and speak. That is absolutely ridiculous.
Lynne October 03, 2012 at 01:27 PM
"Civil Order"??? That goes both ways....I was at a budget workshop last December when a resident questioned a Cecil Supervisor on an issue, to which that board member replied..."I'd like to take you outside and kick your @$$". Now that is professionalism at it's best!!
Jason Krut October 03, 2012 at 04:58 PM
There is nothing in any of the new policies that is unreasonable to ask of any of our supervisors, staff,residents or guests. The sad part of all of this is that it needed to be asked.
Cindy Peitzman Fisher October 03, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I could not agree with you more Jason! This policy is needed! The board does not stop anyone from speaking as long as it is done at the right time in a professional manner.
Ed Vicheck October 03, 2012 at 07:07 PM
This is something that is needed at an Independence township meeting.
JJ October 04, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Jason and Cindy are correct. It is a great township and our supervisors should lead professionally so the twp can grow positively. It is hard to believe that recent conduct has necessitated this policy.
Anna Coen October 04, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Amanda, Sorry I missed you at the BOS meeting. As I have stated to you before, I do appreciate the forum you offer and I agree it should be kept civil and respectful. Every one has a view point on an issue and the country was built on "freedom of speech". And as a reporter, in talking with you, I believe you subscribe to that premise. Speaking personally I have always been respectiful of the board,staff. and citizens. Having said that, i am concerned about the new policies and it's certainly not because I have an personal agenda or problem with anyone in the township. I have lived in this community for a very long time and have seen many changes, as alot of us have. I think everyonel needs to take a "deep breath" and assess what is best for all the township. I really don't think suggesting that someone will be removed by the police helps the conversation. Also Chief Pushak is capable of keeping order since he is present at all the meetings. .I agree that we should not make the issues personal but "Has it become that? I believe that all the supervisor have the interest of the township and citizens at heart otherwise why be on "The board" But being mindful of that, "Let's listen to all sides of an issue, not with animosity and most of all not shutting out the voices that make the township what it is today.the "Tax Paying Citizens" Also did you get a response from Supervisor Cowden as stated in your article and did you get a response from the other supervisors?
Amanda Gillooly October 04, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Anna, I hope to see you again soon - and thank you for your kind words. Supervisor Cowden did not return my phone messaging seeking further comment for the story either yesterday or today. If she does call, I will gladly update you on her stance. Thanks all for your comments!!
cecil resident October 04, 2012 at 03:48 AM
Anna Coen I also share some of your concerns. Looking at all of the comments on this page I feel like people were at two different meetings. I don't want anyone disrespected but I also don't want to be disrespected.There is plenty of disrespect going on in these meeting some audience member to other audience member, some supervisors to other supervisors, and some supervisor to the tax payers. And a lot of this went on after the policy was past with no attempt to stop it. We have a large group of elderly who come to the meetings or use to come to the meetings that cannot set for 3 to 4 hours waiting to have their concerns heard. A couple of things were proposed have public comment 7-:7:30 or have a second meeting for public discussions both shot down with no real solutions to solve this problem the elderly tax payers I feel deserve better. The tax payers are frustated they feel they are being ignored their concerns are push aside. One citizen spoke at the comment section and made a statement these meeting are like a fire you can throw a can of water on it or a can of gas and this policy just maybe that can of gas.
Cindy McPherson October 04, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Let's call it what it is. Elizabeth Cowden packs the meetings with her cronies whose sole job is to stir up trouble on her behalf. Why did she even run for office? Was she put up by the gas companies?
cecil resident October 04, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Sorry Cindy you feel that you have to use a personal attack the rest of use where taking about some of the issues that maybe causing some of the problems, Didn't that new policy asked for no personal attacks. Comments like this is really the gas on the fire.
Anna Coen October 04, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I attend the meetings and I'm interested in the progress,fairness to all Cecil taxpayers including our supervisors, and staff. I don't believe we should make accusations as it is not helpful to anyone. As a citizen of the township, comments attacking someome, if you disagree with them {in my opinion} is not productive.. Free speech is one thing but attacting Supervisor Cowden personally is not responsible or fair just as it would not be fair to attact any of our supervisors personally. If you have a complaint please bring in before the board and try to get it resolved., to me that is the fair and right way. I don't believe any of the supervisor's deserve personal attacks and this is not the first one I have heard for Supervisor Cowden and perhaps if you would speak to any one of the supervisors you disagree with I'm sure you would , maybe not change your mind completely, being open minded hopefully you could see the other point of view.. .Amanda is always requesting the comments to be civil and since she has afforded us this venue to speak we should respect her request.
Me October 04, 2012 at 04:16 PM
As a concerned resident and I'm praying for our township. Being a life long resident that grew up and raised my family here I have real concerns. Years ago when our supervisor board was smaller they may have argue about problems but they would still work at them and come up with a way to fix the problem. Today the board looks all one sided no discussions no one trying to come up with a solution and certainly no give and take. Back when we had a smaller board our supervisors as well as our Chief and police force they got out amongst the people and listened to what problem might need worked on in the township and the residents felt comfortable enough to even argue with them with no hard feelings. With the rapid growth in the township I wonder how many of the people can name our supervisors as well as the police force there is no more communication only at election time. I may be wrong but I am not even sure people feel comfortable talking to them I don't. I will continue to pray and look for ideas to bring unity back to our township and not divide it.
Kittypepper October 05, 2012 at 07:35 PM
On behalf of some of the taxpayers of Cecil Township we have asked repeatedly for two meetings a month, one for the taxpayers and one for professional business. The majority of the supervisors have blocked this request. In my opinion, the reason for the block is that they don't want to take the time to accommodate the taxpayers by having 2 meetings a month. In other words it interferes with their lives or their jobs. If it is such an inconvenience, they should step down from the board and let someone else take the position that is willing to work with the taxpayers. We also have asked for the taxpayer to speak at the beginning of the meeting, again the majority of the board has rejected our request. We have a lot of taxpayers that cannot sit for 2-1/2-3 hours waiting to speak on issues that are important to us and other township residents that are not able to attend the meeting for health issues or late nights.
Kittypepper October 05, 2012 at 07:35 PM
On another note the majority of our supervisors are not open for new suggestions and veto everything that is brought before them. They will not give it a chance to see if it will work. I feel that our township is being run by other INDIVIDUALS and not by our ELECTED OFFICIALS. There are many issues brought before the board and rather talking about them they usually push them to the side and say they will review and have the answers at the next meeting, that NEVER comes. When brought back to their attention they either don't remember or haven't got to it.
cecil resident October 06, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Amanda would it be possible for you to post the new policy since it seems to affect the public also would like to read the whole thing.
Me October 08, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Amanda would you please post Cecil Twp New Policy. I would like to see it
Amanda Gillooly October 09, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Me - I will give the township a call tomorrow to ask for a PDF. When I get it, I will let you know!
Amanda Gillooly October 09, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Proud - My apologies, I just saw your comment now!!
Me October 12, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Amanda Did you get a copy Cecil Twp New Policy?
cecil resident October 21, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Amanda I guess you were not able to get a copy of the new policy.
cecil resident November 06, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Just wanted to let you know Amanda that the township had copies of the new policy out for the citizens. Not sure why it never got posted on The Patch because it is our best tool for our community to get things out to the public. Looking at all the comments after a posting you can see how large your followers are. Thank you for this forum.

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