Inside Your Town

No Power Point presentations or sign-ins at Allentown Council meetings

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - New rules for public comment have now been instituted by Allentown City Council.

Council voted 6-1 at Wednesday night's meeting to allow citizens the chance to speak on bills before they reach committee. In the past, citizens were prohibited from commenting on any bills that were introduced.

"If a resolution is introduced, I think people should have the right to come up to ask questions before going to committee," said council Vice President Ray O'Connell.

However, council was not sold on using sign-in sheets and allowing residents to present PowerPoint presentations at meetings.

Both proposals failed to generate enough support from council members and citizens.

Ken Heffentrager, vice president of the Allentown Tenant Association, said a sign-in sheet will only act as a deterrent because some citizens may feel apprehensive about speaking in public.

"For some people it's intimidating to come up here," he said.

Allentown resident Rich Fegley asked council to consider using alternative methods like technology. He also emphasized the proposed rules hinder a resident's right to speak at public meetings.

"Citizens should be able to speak," Fegley said. "Think about what you're doing."

Councilpersons Peter Schweyer and Jeanette Eichenwald voted for the PowerPoint provision.

Schweyer asked why council is ignoring introducing the use of technology into council meetings when there are large, flat screen TVs in council chambers.

"These changes really aren't necessary," Fegley added.

Council indicated it will continue to research the use of presentations during meetings.

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