Clarifying Peru ordinance
To the Editor:
On Jan. 19, Peru voters will go to a special town meeting to vote on an ordinance that will give citizens the chance to always be able to be heard by the town's Board of Selectmen.
This ordinance was initiated and written because Peru citizens have no other way to voice opinions or grievances to their elected officials. Peru does not have an Appeals Board and public participation is only allowed the first and third meetings of each month. If there is a holiday or scheduling conflict with the first or third week of a month, there's no participation.
The ordinance states that public participation be set for every scheduled meeting; to be held at the end of the business part; and be set for no more than 20 minutes. The whole reason for making an ordinance is to have it so that future boards cannot take away the citizens' freedom to speak. As it stands now, if the board doesn't wish to hear from the people, they remove the public participation.
Statements have been made by the Chair of the board that public participation was removed because citizens were interrupting the business part of the meeting and "bullying" the board. The fact is the board has never been bullied, and the public participation has not been an interruption because it has been held after town business was concluded.
Peru citizens, if you vote to have this ordinance, you are keeping our first amendment rights, the Freedom of Speech/Address and Readdress (when not given answers). If you vote against having this ordinance, you are in fact giving up a constitutional right.
Although this upcoming meeting is in town meeting forum, voters will be voting by secret ballot.