Any burning questions for the Cultus Lake Park Board will now have to be addressed directly by the board chair, CLPB staff, or the park board as a whole.
But they will no longer be entertained during an official question period at the end of board meetings.
The board voted to suspend question period indefinitely on June 27.
On Friday a letter from Board Chair Bob McCrea was released to residents explaining the decision, and the rationale for making it at an in-camera meeting.
“Some of the commissioners felt that a few members of the audience, when asking questions, had stepped over the lines of decorum by not showing respect for the Board room, or those who serve in it,” he wrote in a letter to Cultus residents dated July 21.
The board decision was “declassified” by commissioners so residents could be notified of it.
“Any disrespectful comments are not appreciated by the Board or Staff,” reads one part of the letter.
McCrea stated that he believes it is a commissioner’s “duty” to listen to the wishes of the people, and “while it’s hoped the public will be respectful, there are times when the audience’s feelings are expressed in a way that is personally offensive to Staff and Commissioners.”
He noted that some commissioners thought he was responsible for the “lack of decorum” at meetings and he said he valued those comments just as much as he did those of lake residents.
Although all questions are supposed to go through the chair to staff or commissioners, sometimes unwelcome comments come up from the floor “unexpectedly” and are therefore difficult for the chair to “censor,” McCrea wrote.
Consequently, Cultus Lake residents are welcome to continue sending questions to the Cultus Lake Park Board, “and they will either be answered by me, the staff or will be discussed by the board as a whole,” McCrea concluded.
Some residents said the decision goes against the board’s own bylaws.
The bylaw in question reads, in part: “The Board shall hold a thirty minute public participation period or until speakers have concluded, whichever comes first after section: Community Association of the Public Agenda of each regular Board meeting.”
Area resident Rick Williamson said his initial reaction to the letter was that it was “pretty pathetic,” in terms of an explanation, since it doesn’t address the question of bylaw violation with the question period cancellation.
“The Board has violated its own bylaw in an attempt to silence the public it was elected to serve,” he said.