CHETEK, Wis. (WEAU) -- Mum is the word in a local community after the mayor removes people’s ability to come into city council meetings and openly speak their minds.
If residents of Chetek have something to say at city council meetings, they now have to get permission to be put on the agenda by the Friday before a Tuesday city council meeting.
The mayor says this new rule was adopted to save time at meetings but some say it’s violating rights.
“I think the people should be allowed to go in and their voice not be shut out and wait to get on their form because you may never get on that form,” said Chetek resident Sam Maki.
Mayor Dianne Knowlton is behind the changes.
She declined an interview with WEAU 13 News but said it’s all because of a person who would use public comment periods at council meetings as a time to air personal problems and waste the council’s time.
“And then it puts pressure on everybody else who would like to do it but can’t do it because someone’s already done too much of it,” said Chetek resident Harold Bowers.
Mayor Knowlton said no laws are being violated.
People in Chetek WEAU talked to Sunday afternoon said they’d rather see a time limit put in place instead of doing away with public comments all together.
“If I have something to say, five minutes and I’m done. Clock timer, that's all it takes,” Maki said.
“I think we should be able to go to a meeting and have five minutes or whatever to speak without having to put it on the agenda,” Bowers said.
City Clerk Carmen Newman also denied an interview but said the ban on open comments could be temporary.