Proposals to Ban Cell Phones & Impliment Agenda Items Tabled in North Tonawanda

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By: Brendan McDonough

Reporter for North Tonawanda

Last Tuesday the North Tonawanda Common Council postponed two items that have gained public attention in recent weeks.

One was the debate on rules governing council business and the other was the suggestion that Council members put away cell phones during meeting and only use the city issued I-Pads.

City Attorney Luke Brown has been working on the two proposals.

Implementing formal rules for agenda items, which members of the Common Council have been calling for seemingly for over a year, is one such proposal.  

The proposal would require the resolutions be introduced at a work session and then submitted to the clerk’s office no later than the Thursday before the meeting.

However, Brown says he and his staff found a set of rules and are unsure if they were ever put into law. Given the new development, more time was requested. 

Also tabled was a proposal for Common Council members to put away cell phones during meetings.

 

 

Brown says it could be a violation of “Open Meetings Law” after looking into the matter.

“If there is a quadrium of Council Members engaged in a conversation concurrently that can be seen as an open meetings violation because then you are not discussing that in the open.  So, I am hoping to get more clarification as to when that applies to text messages,” said Brown.

For some council members it’s not about the text messages but about following the rules and paying attention at council meetings.

“Whether you are pro I-Pad or pro phone, that is not what this is,” said Erik Zadzilka, Common Council President. “It boils down to this. We have a device per protocol that we are supposed to be using and unfortunately there is really no text messaging from your tablet.”

Brown also went on to say that he needs more time to look into the matter. Whether or not it is a violation of the law or simply bad manners is something that he says needs to be researched a little more.

Also talked about at the meeting was whether or not to keep the currently recycling plan.

“With the recycling it is something that we have been working on,” said Zadzilka. “Yes, it is getting costly to recycle but we want to be a green city. It is something that we have to look at more. Specifically what we can do as a municipality and what is the responsible thing to do for our environment and not just for the convenience of certain people.”

Zadzilka says he is always welcome to hear any ideas from residents on ways to improve the City and move it forward.

 

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