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Monroeville officials hastily end meeting during public comments period

| Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 12:09 a.m.

Monroeville Council hastily ended its meeting Tuesday night when a former municipal police lieutenant tried to talk to officials during the public comments portion of the meeting.

“I have the right to speak, mister, and you're going to listen to me,” Lou Smith shouted at Councilman Bernhard Erb after Erb had motioned to close the meeting while Smith was talking. “I hope the voters are listening, because I have a lot to say tonight, and this man denied my right to speak at this council meeting.”

Council members Lois Drumheller, Diane Allison and Clarence Ramsey voted to end the meeting. Councilmen Steve Duncan and Nick Gresock voted against. Councilman Jim Johns was not in attendance.

Smith, a Monroeville resident, said he thought he was cut off because he was about to disclose unfavorable information about political allies of the majority of council. However, Erb said he adjourned the meeting because Smith was rehashing issues that were discussed at the May 9 citizens night meeting.

“Citizens night is the night to beat on us or praise us, or do whatever they want to,” Erb said. “I didn't need to sit there and listen to it.”

Erb said state law requires council to allow the public to comment on agenda items during voting meetings but doesn't require it to open comment to non-agenda topics. However, in practice, Monroeville Council has allowed residents to speak on a variety of issues not related to agenda items.

Mayor Greg Erosenko begrudgingly asked for a vote from council to adjourn the meeting, following Erb's motion.

“Lou, they have a right to do it,” Erosenko said. “They're playing games.”

Kyle Lawson is a reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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