Did Fairfield council vote? Or not?

Who Ordered Second Public Comment Cut from Agenda?

WINNSBORO – Angst continues over the decision to eliminate one of two public comment sessions from the agenda at Fairfield County Council meetings.

Council Chairman Doug Pauley said at the Sept. 11 meeting that council members had decided to omit the second public comment session.

Such a vote, according to the SC Freedom of Information Act, would have to be taken in public. The SC FOIA does not allow public bodies to unilaterally make decisions without holding a public vote. According to county records, however, council did not vote.

District 2 resident Don Goldbock said during the first and only public input session Monday night that the council’s bylaws require two public comment sessions per meeting.

He further noted that, per SC law, decisions such as deciding to remove the second public comment session require a council vote.

“I’d like to understand how that [second public comment session] was removed,” Goldbock said. “Official action may only be taken at meetings. My understanding was that this [vote] didn’t occur at a regular meeting.”

Pauley announced the decision to remove the comment session after an angry outburst from a county resident at the Aug. 31 meeting.

In a letter of apology to the county and the community, the offending speaker, Jeff Schaffer, said he was reacting to council members laughing and being disruptive while he was addressing them. He said such behavior on council’s part was becoming more frequent.

“I just lost it,” Schaffer said.

While future speakers are penalized for Schaffer’s behavior, the council members’ behavior was not addressed.

During county council time Monday night, Councilman Dan Ruff asked to have the county attorney review the process in which the second public comment session was removed and report any findings.

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