City government meetings are boring and tedious and deal with boring, tedious things -- zoning, ceremonial items, paying a city's bills. Most also allow time for the public to comment, which almost always entices the local gadflies and cranks to show up and share whatever's on their minds. And it's often the most interesting part of the meetings.
Nonetheless, the town board of Sanford, N.Y., got tired of one particular topic coming up in public comments: fracking. Speaker after speaker would rail against the practice, which is currently banned in the state. The town board reached its limit last fall, voting to ban any further comment from the public on the topic.
In spirit, we can appreciate the frustration. In practice, however, we would strongly encourage elected officials to remember that public meetings don't exist for their convenience. To help remind the Sanford board of that fact, local residents (with the support of the Natural Resources Defense Council) are suing. From the Associated Press:
"If people are silenced by their own elected representatives, how can they trust them to act in their best interests?" said Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Kate Sinding as her group announced the U.S. District Court lawsuit. NRDC and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy filed the lawsuit on behalf of town residents who are members of their groups.