Council Members Stage Walkout

By Dave Greber

Council Members Stage Walkout

February 10, 2012 Updated Feb 10, 2012 at 11:49 PM EDT

Montrose Borough, PA (WBNG Binghamton) Members of the Montrose Borough Council "shirked" their responsibilities when they walked out of a meeting this week because a resident wanted to record the proceedings.

That's according to one of their own, Councilmember Julanne Skinner, who refused to participate in the spur-of-the-moment protest.

"It doesn't bode well for governing responsibilities," Skinner said Thursday evening.

Pennsylvania Sunshine Laws allow for public meetings to be taped.

A nine-minute video posted to the media-streaming website YouTube by Vera Scroggins, of Brackney, Pa., shows council members walking out following a short announcement by Chairman Tom Lamont, who led the walkout.

A portion of the Feb. 6 meeting was supposed to cover an ongoing feud in the Borough regarding whether Dimock Twp. residents should have access to Pan American Water in Montrose.

The issue is dicey, to the say the least, Skinner said, mostly because it involves the divisive issue of natural gas drilling.

And it's just one in a long series of adjustments the small town has been forced to make since drills hit the earth in the Northern Tier, said Councilman Todd Chamberlain.

"The whole gas industry and all the things that have gone along with it, and all the changes, we and the rest of the state just aren't prepared for," Chamberlain said.

Like Skinner, Chamberlain said he was "disappointed" the council failed to address its original agenda.

But unlike Skinner, Chamberlain and six others walked out.

Calls to Lamont were not returned.

Chamberlain said it was the first time in his tenure he's seen a camera at a meeting, including those owned by media organizations.

But even the gas industry has changed that, he said.

"It's a time of change," he said. "it's tough."

The council's next meeting is Tuesday. Chamberlain said he wasn't sure if the issue of providing water to Dimock Twp. residents would be discussed. He did say, however, the council will consider adopting rules for future meetings, among them, the use of video recording devices.