Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Want to speak to Assembly? Sign-up required

 


Members of the public wishing to testify during a public hearing at a Haines Borough Assembly meeting will now have to sign up ahead of time.

Mayor Jan Hill recently renewed the practice, which requires members of the public seeking to testify at a public hearing to use a sign-in sheet placed on a table outside the assembly chambers.

“It’s not unusual. If you go to a state public hearing at the Legislature, you have to sign in. It’s just a way so that we can keep it orderly and make better use of our time,” Hill said.

Hill used the same system when she was previously Mayor, but former Stephanie Scott discontinued the policy to allow citizens to speak spontaneously.

Scott said in an interview this week that she abandoned the policy for several reasons, including that people would sometimes forget to sign up and then feel they couldn’t contribute. “I just wanted to make it as easy as possible to have people contribute and not put any barriers in the way,” she said.

Forcing people to sign up at the beginning of the meeting also doesn’t allow ideas to reverberate, Scott added.

“When people are listening to other people contribute, they might be inspired to add a comment,” she said.

Scott said she doesn’t understand why the policy is necessary in a town this size.

“I would like our local government to be efficient, but I would also like it to be friendly. I don’t think democracy and efficiency are synonymous,” Scott said. “If efficiency is what we are all about, then we are in trouble.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Hill said she would allow people to speak who hadn’t signed up because the policy was new and hadn’t been noticed. In the future, people will need to sign up, she said.

The sheets are removed at the beginning of the meeting, so latecomers will be out of luck. “If I felt very strongly about an ordinance that was up for a public hearing, I would make sure I was at the start of the meeting,” Hill said.

“We all have a certain amount of responsibility,” she added.

Members of the public will still be allowed a maximum of three minutes to speak.

 
 

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