Port resolution narrows public comment field

The repeal of a motion by Port of Coupeville commissioners last week changed the structure on how public comment will be received in future meetings.

The change, some community members fear, will cut public comment considerably.

Commissioners John Mishasek and William Bell repealed Resolution 208, which had been approved earlier this year under then board President Mike Diamanti.

It changed the structure of meetings so there were public comment portions at the beginning and end of meetings and also allowed for comment prior to every vote taken.

In its place, Resolution 220 was approved, which says the board president “may, at his or her discretion, allow public comment. Public comment will be limited to that section of the agenda so designated by the president.”

Several members of the audience expressed concern over the change.

“The intent here is not to reduce public comment,” Mishasek said. “It will still be here.”

The intent, he said is to make meetings more timely and is an effort to get meetings back on track.

Bell did not respond to requests for comment.

Former Executive Director Forrest Rambo, who was fired in September, said he questions the intent behind the change, and with it, the current board’s intent on transparency and community involvement.

“Yes, public comment after every item may have been overkill,” he said. But it was done in the spirit of bridging a gap with the community and building trust, he said.