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Boo Ban in Riverhead To Be Lifted

The legislation has sparked a public outcry.

A controversial ban on booing in Riverhead will be lifted.

The Riverhead town board agreed at to vote on a resolution at Tuesday's town board meeting that will allow booing to ring out in Town Hall again.

Residents will still have to abstain from "disruptive" behavior at town board meetings, the law states.

"It's over. We were famous for awhile," Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said.

The controversy over booing, Councilman John Dunleavy said, "is over."

Recently, the board voted to approve new legislation that prohibits any demonstration that lawmakers would consider disruptive to meetings, specifically booing, but agreed clapping would still be permitted.

The first draft of the legislation banned both booing and clapping.

But, after Dominque Mendez, president of the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition, protested that the proposed law "goes far to restrict what's free expression and free speech," the board agreed to ban only booing, not clapping.

Hand clapping, Mendez said, has been heard at town board meetings during instances including the preservation of the North Fork Preserve. "People clapped and no one minded," she said.

"Have you ever seen anyone clap and delay a meeting?" Mendez asked. "It's very brief."

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said much of the legislation was adopted from model rules from other towns and was not written specifically for Riverhead, though after hearing concerns about the law he added he would favor letting hand clapping stand.

But booing would still have been banned.

"We don't want any booing that's disruptive," he said.

Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said she has seen both booing and clapping. "It doesn't provide for an orderly meeting. That's what I think the purpose is, of adopting rules of order."

After the unanimous vote, there was applause.

The motion sparked a public backcry and a spotlight of media attention; the board decided to repeal the ban.

charles rimicci March 14, 2013 at 04:24 PM
i guess the town board is not busy and has time to be bothered with such nonsense
Greg Fischer March 14, 2013 at 06:17 PM
I am still not exactly sure what 'disruptive' means in the context of "residents will still have to abstain from 'disruptive' behavior at town board meetings ... " considering the generally civilized Board Meetings of Riverhead. However, in our "information age" with so few residents attending Board Meetings, surely what communicates across the internet has great and growing impact and Board Members would welcome the early feedback of residents in an open Board Meeting.

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