Speaker policy causes tension at Keyser City Council meeting

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune

By Liz Beavers


Tribune Managing Editor

KEYSER - The proper process for signing up to speak to the Keyser City Council was questioned during Wednesday’s meeting and seemed to create some tension between the mayor and a gentleman who regularly brings issues to the council.

When he arrived at the portion of the meeting set aside for members of the public wishing to speak, mayor Damon Tillman looked at the signup sheet and announced, “If you don’t fill out the paper properly, you will not have the opportunity to speak.”

He noted that the paper must include the speaker’s name, telephone number, business and topic of discussion.

Resident Curtis Perry, who had signed the paper to speak, asked if this was a new policy because he had never had any problem being recognized in the past.

“Did you look at the paper or did you just write your name down?” Tillman asked him.

When Perry replied that he wasn’t informed the process had changed, Tillman replied, “You should have been informed if you read it.”

Perry continued to object and Tillman at one point interrupted him, saying, “Mr. Perry, that’s it! One more time and you are out!”

Perry dropped the subject and went on to speak about the proposed police protection fee, which the council had tabled earlier in the meeting so they could clear up some discrepancies in the effective dates listed in the document.

Also in their brief discussion of the proposed fee, council member Jennifer Junkins had said the Public Service Commission told them they could not add the fee to city residents’ water bills because they represent two separate entities.

In his comments later in the meeting, Perry said, “I feel the police protection fee should be separate so we know where that money’s going.”

“Mr. Perry, we already discussed that we can’t put it on the water bill,” Tillman said.

Perry, who is running for city council and has run paid ads in the News Tribune which have been critical of the mayor and council, told Tillman his comments were “nothing personal.

“If a person calls you out, don’t take it personally; it’s just campaigning,” he said.

“But we want the facts, Mr. Perry. You’re making accusations,” council member Billy Meek said.