LEHIGH COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
The Lehigh County Commissioners meeting had a rocky start Jan. 22 when, immediately after Commissioners Chair Amy Zanelli led the Pledge of Allegiance, former county commissioner candidate Mathew Schutter began interrupting the proceedings with a call for “a point of order.”
According to Ann McFarlane, an author on parliamentary procedure, calling for a point of order is reserved for a member of the deliberative body to make after being recognized by the presiding officer. “Members of the public at large have the right to attend public meetings and to offer comment as prescribed. They do not have the right to behave like a public nuisance and disrupt the proceedings with inappropriate exclamations …”
When Zanelli said she would get to him, Schutter began to raise his voice and speak over her.
The sheriff’s deputy on duty in the room began to move from his post at the door toward Schutter who continued to speak over Zanelli while she called for approval of the minutes of the last meeting. Schutter quieted himself as the deputy got closer to him.
Then, as called for in the agenda, Zanelli opened the meeting for public comment and invited Schutter to state his name and address and to continue addressing the board.
“We are still violating the Sunshine Law,” Schutter said. While it wasn’t clear what the violation was, he went on to complain about what he called harassment. He continued for a minute in a speech that was hard to clearly understand. Schutter complained the board of commissioners had not properly announced some previous meetings. He was specifically concerned the board meeting schedule was not posted on the front door of the administration building.
He claimed “political harassment” based on some unnamed person, according to Schutter, objecting to him recording comments during a visit to the commissioners’ offices.
Some commissioners, in post-meeting interviews, said they were not clear about what Schutter’s points were.
The Press was not able to interview Schutter after the meeting nor call him.
He appeared to complete his speech and Zanelli then invited Schutter to pursue any avenues available to him and then continued with the proceedings, but then Schutter rebounded and began interrupting Zanelli and the proceedings by shouting. The deputy escorted Schutter out of the hearing room.
In other business, the commissioners passed a bill appointing Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong as “agent of the board of commissioners for labor relations.” The bill also repealed Ordinance 2015-107 on labor relations. This action restores the practice of letting the executive negotiate labor contacts (instead of members of the board of commissioners) then presenting the negotiated contract to the commissioners for approval.
Several citizens were reappointed to boards and councils: Catherine P. Caracio, Marguerite Mutchler, Susan Ungerer, Robbie Matthews, and Pamela Wallace — Children and Youth Services Advisory Council; Michel A. Yeager — Lehigh County Housing Authority Board; Shilpa Barrantes, Connie Hammann, Dr. John Stevens and Christine Emily Gorigoitia-Wittenberg — Lehigh County Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities Advisory Board; Francis (Frank) Facchiano and Larry Hemberger — Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.