Statement before the        Glenn A. Walsh

Board of Directors            P.O. Box 1041

Allegheny Regional          Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

   Asset District:                Telephone: 412-561-7876

Public Comment               Electronic Mail: < >

Limitations at                    Internet Site: <  >

RAD Board Meetings         2007 April 30


Good evening. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon. Today I am speaking

as a private citizen representing no organization.


Today’s agenda includes consideration of adding a 24-hour registration notice to your current

public comment policy.  Although adding such a notice is in compliance with the Pennsylvania

Sunshine Act, adding such a notice will not solve the problem you, apparently, are trying to solve.


The main problem with your current policy is the allocation of only 15 minutes for public comments.

At three minutes per speaker, this only allows five county residents, in a county with a population

of more than 1.2 million, to speak at any one meeting!


In the past, I have commented to the staff that I believe that this policy is in violation of the spirit of the Sunshine Act. And, considering that people register on the speakers’ list on a first-come, first-served

basis, if a speaker is denied the opportunity to speak due to this policy, and that speaker wishes to

comment on a matter that you will vote on that evening, then you would be in violation of the

letter-of-the-law! And, since people reading your policy on-line are not guaranteed they can speak,

this discourages them from even trying to participate!


It seems the reason for this policy is to prevent delays in the meeting agenda—despite the fact that

the “Public hearing and comment period” is part of the agenda! I could be wrong, but it seems that

this policy was instituted shortly after I, and ten other members of Friends of the Zeiss, testified on

August 27, 2001 in opposition to a Children’s Museum request for $4 million in RAD capital funding.


This delayed the beginning of that evening’s annual budget hearings and meant that certain

“high-profile” civic leaders, such as then-Carnegie Institute President Ellsworth Brown, had

to wait longer. So, I understand the problem that you were trying to solve, but my response

to that problem is: welcome to democracy!  This problem is no different from the problem

City Council has to deal with weekly and County Council and other municipal councils have

to deal with monthly. They do not try to find some way to limit public comment. They simply

listen to everyone who wants to make a public comment, before proceeding with the rest of

the agenda.


Your Public Comment Policy also says, that for people who cannot fit into the fifteen minutes,

“the Board may either extend the time or schedule the remaining speakers to appear first during

the next public comment period.” So, if the time is not extended, these people have to wait a

month—often longer since you do not meet every month? Will these people then crowd-out people

who want to comment at the next meeting?


About ten years ago, the Pennsylvania General Assembly purposely changed the Sunshine Act,

so that public comments at the end of public meetings were no longer practically meaningless.

The General Assembly wanted all public bodies to listen and pay attention to what the public

had to say.


A lot of the time, I am the only one who even speaks. However, on the rather rare occasions

when some hot-button issue brings out several people to speak, it is in your best interests to

listen to each of them—even if budget hearings are delayed.  A 24-hour notification should

not be instituted and the 15-minute comment period

limitation should be rescinded.


Thank you,