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Virtual meeting etiquette a point of discussion among commissioners


Special to The Press

One of the recurring topics of discussion at the South Whitehall Township commissioners’ March 3 meeting involved attendance rules and etiquette during virtual meetings.

After it was announced at the beginning of the meeting that participants’ names would not be shown on screen, due to a Feb. 17 meeting where attendees used inappropriate names, Commissioner Mike Wolk said meeting rules should be posted for the public to see, in addition to being verbally read.

Wolk also said there were some items of the current meeting arrangement he did not agree with, such as the attendance list being closed, adding virtual meetings should be run normally with visible names, as they were before Feb. 17.

Commissioner Diane Kelly agreed, stating it was unfortunate the meeting rules had changed due to a singular previous meeting.

Both she and Wolk said this was no reason to close off the meeting list.

Board President Christina “Tori” Morgan said attendee expectations and rules had always been read at past meetings, and not displaying names was no different from conducting a regular public meeting.

She said the changes were being done to reflect “the same type of decorum” as a public meeting, and there had been no changes to audience members’ ability to speak, have courtesy of the floor or approach the board.

Wolk made a motion to open the attendance list. This failed by a 2-3 vote.

Wolk and Kelly voted “yes.”

Commissioners Matthew Mobilio, who said Wolk’s intention was to disrupt the meeting, Joe Setton and Morgan voted “no.”

Later in the meeting, Morgan proposed a motion to accept and solidify the township’s meeting rules’ document, which she said would continue to be posted and read at future meetings, to solidify etiquette and behavior standards.

With regard to displaying or announcing names, Morgan said the same rules would apply as to an in-person meeting, where speakers would announce their names when speaking.

Additionally, in response to an audience question about listing members of the public who attended the meeting, Morgan said at in-person public meetings there is no requirement to sign in.

She added information about people who choose to speak virtually is reflected in the minutes.

Morgan’s motion passed in a 3-2 vote with her, Mobilio and Setton voting “yes.” Kelly and Wolk opposed.

Lastly, township Manager Renee Bickel said the campus renovation process was in its final steps, and staff were looking to start transitioning back to the township’s Walbert Avenue building in the next few weeks.

However, she said the public meeting room would be the last completed, and a return to using this space would be further on in the future.