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Saturday, March 28, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY DOUGLAS GRAVESA Lehigh County Sheriff’s deputy escorts Matthew Schutter out of the hearing room after he began disrupting the county commissioners Jan. 22 meeting. PRESS PHOTO BY DOUGLAS GRAVESA Lehigh County Sheriff’s deputy escorts Matthew Schutter out of the hearing room after he began disrupting the county commissioners Jan. 22 meeting.

Matthew Schutter escorted from county meeting

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Local News

The Lehigh County Commissioners’ meeting had a rocky start Jan. 22 when, immediately after Chairwoman Amy Zanelli led the Pledge of Allegiance, former county commissioner candidate Matthew Schutter began interrupting the proceedings with a call for “a point of order.”

According to Ann McFarlane, author on parliamentary procedure on the Jurassic Parliament Web page, calling for a point of order is reserved for a member of the deliberative body to make after being recognized by the presiding officer.

“Members of the public at large have the right to attend public meetings and to offer comment as prescribed. They do not have the right to behave like a public nuisance and disrupt the proceedings with inappropriate exclamations …,” the Jurassic Parliament web page states.

When Zanelli said that she would get to him, Schutter began to raise his voice and speak over her.

The sheriff’s deputy on duty in the room began to move from his post at the door toward Schutter, who continued to speak over Zanelli while she called for approval of the minutes of the last meeting.

Schutter quieted himself as the deputy got closer.

Then, as called for in the agenda, Zanelli opened the meeting for public comment and invited Schutter to state his name and address and to continue addressing the board.

“We are still violating the Sunshine Law,” Schutter said.

While it wasn’t clear what the violation was, he went on to complain about what he called harassment.

He continued for a minute in a speech that was hard to clearly understand.

In essence, he complained commissioners had not properly announced some previous meetings.

Schutter was specifically concerned the board meeting schedule was not posted on the front door of the administration building.

He claimed “political harassment” based on some unnamed person, objecting to him recording comments during a visit to the commissioners’ offices.

Schutter appeared to complete his speech and Zanelli then invited him to pursue any avenues available to him and then continued with the proceedings.

Schutter, however, rebounded and began interrupting Zanelli and the proceedings by shouting.

The deputy then escorted Schutter out of the hearing room.

The Press was unable to interview Schutter after the meeting.

In other business, commissioners passed a bill appointing county Executive Phillips Armstrong as an agent of the board of commissioners for labor relations.

This action restores the practice of letting the county executive negotiate labor contacts, instead of members of the board of commissioners, then presenting the negotiated contract to the commissioners for approval.

Several individuals were reappointed to boards and councils: Catherine P. Caracio, Marguerite Mutchler, Susan Ungerer, Robbie Matthews, and Pamela Wallace — Children and Youth Services Advisory Council; Michael A. Yeager — Lehigh County Housing Authority Board; Shilpa Kapoor-Barrantes, Connie Hammann, Dr. John Stevens and Christine Emily Gorigoitia-Wittenberg — Lehigh County Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities Advisory Board; and Frank Facchiano and Larry Hemberger — Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.