People speak out against resolution that would limit public forum

WTAP Daybreak
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 12:09 AM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Parkersburg City Council had a passionate public forum at its meeting Tuesday night.

Multiple people got up to voice their concern over a proposed resolution that would limit public forum to agenda items only.

Although the resolution was listed on the agenda, it ended up not being voted on due to Council President Sharon Kuhl pulling her sponsorship.

Both Kuhl and co-sponsor Jessica Cottrille told WTAP that they were uncomfortable with the wording of the resolution.

Mike Reynolds was the third sponsor.

WTAP is currently unclear of the future of this resolution.

People voiced many concerns during public forum.

One woman said, “I also understand that citizens may be approaching you with concerns that are not within the realm of your duties so that’s an inefficient use of your time, however, limiting public forum to items on your agenda does not allow for the public to address legitimate concerns that do fall within your duties.”

Another woman pointed out that people need to get three council members to sponsor an item to get on the agenda.

“What kind of - that is a bar way up here for busy citizens who have other things to do and whose council members do not always respond to emails and phone calls.”

Another woman pointed to how much time she says public forum typically takes up.

“There’s 30 minutes allotted for public comments and there’s rarely enough speakers to fill that time.”

Another woman compared and contrasted the reach of locals’ voices when going before council versus other avenues.

“Emails and phone calls don’t go before council as a whole where one speaks before the council, the mayor, the media, the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, and WTAP. That’s the definition of public.”

Council Member Ray Eubanks passionately voiced his stance against the resolution as well.

Both Cottrille and Kuhl told WTAP that sponsoring legislation does not indicate that members will vote for legislation. It does, however, enable the legislation to get on the agenda so that council can discuss it.

They also told WTAP that Reynolds wrote the legislation and that whether or not it comes up again depends on him.

Reynolds was not at the council meeting and WTAP was unable to reach him afterwards.