The issue of communications—from town residents to the town board, and from town board to residents—was front and center at the Town of Delaware Town Board meeting on Wednesday, September 20. Both sides apparently think there is room for improvement.
First, the town board passed a resolution regarding the proper deportment during meetings. Among other provisions, there will be a time limit of three minutes, with town clerk Tess McBeath as timekeeper, and any statements “shall not involve personal, impertinent or slanderous attacks on individuals, regardless of whether the individual so attacked is an elected official, a town official or employee, or a member of the general public.”
In response to a provision of the resolution that says that anyone who “generally conducts himself or herself in a boisterous or inappropriate manner” and refuses to step down shall be removed and charged with disorderly conduct, Michael Chojnicki asked “Who will do the removal? Tess is doing the timing, so... ” prompting a laugh from the crowd. The resolution was approved. The full text can be found at http://www.townofdelaware-ny.us/cmsadmin/up  loads/Resolution-Meeting_rules.pdf.
Under new business, Zeke Boyle presented a petition titled “You Don’t Speak for Me,” with 430 signatures, all by people who disagree with board member Harold Roeder’s resolution that the town approved in June, which effectively welcomed gas leasing to the town. The petition condemned the substance of the resolution, and the hasty manner in which it was passed, without notice to or consultation with the public.
Citing the Roeder resolution as an example of a failure to communicate, Stephan Lundgren made some proposals to make it easier for “all you members of the town board to communicate accurately and fairly with your constituents.” Lundgren proposed the establishment of Saturday office hours for two town board members on a rotating basis; and giving a dedicated email address to each council member, along with a return receipt to ensure that constituents know that their email has been received.
Under old business, Supervisor Ed Sykes announced the names of the appointees to a previously approved natural gas drilling commission to investigate the probable impact of natural gas drilling on the town (Earl Kinney, Fred Stabbert III, Matt Hofer, Kara McElroy, Cindy Menges and Craig Schumacher).
During the public comment period, many members of the public expressed outrage that, despite the board’s approval of the fact-finding commission, Sykes and Roeder have endorsed a letter to governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to expedite the permitting of gas drilling in New York State. The letter included the statement, “we have studied the facts and data, we have talked to experts... all of us have had extensive interactions with our constituents,” a line that prompted murmurs of disagreement in the audience.
A number of speakers said that the Roeder resolution contradicted the intent of the commission, and requested that the town rescind that resolution, move back to its previously professed position of neutrality on gas drilling and institute a moratorium until the commission should have finished its deliberations and released its findings.
The meeting adjourned without further action being taken.