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Council member will not attend in-person meeting June 3; president says vote had 'lack of transparency'

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At least one Middletown Borough Council member will not attend the body’s June 3 meeting, which will be held in the MCSO Building after a vote Tuesday to start holding sessions in person again.

The Press & Journal posted a story on the change on its website Friday. In response, council member Dawn Knull commented on the story: “I do not feel that this meeting should be taking place and for that reason I will not be participating. I know that people want to get back to some kind of normalcy but I cannot place the residents of the Borough at risk by holding a public meeting right now. I do not listen to the news or read things on Facebook. I talk to those in the front line, those that actually are seeing things occurring and I cannot do this yet. So for that reason I will not be at this meeting. It is not that I do not care about what is going on or that I am bailing on my position. I am making a statement that this meeting should not be happening.”

Knull voted against the motion Tuesday made by Council Vice President Ian Reddinger to hold future meetings in the MCSO, which is a gym with a basketball court. It has bleachers on one side and a stage. Reddinger said it is time to “get back to some sense of normalcy.”

Reddinger said the June 3 meeting in the MCSO would be done according to guidelines being put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vote Tuesday was 5-2. Council President Angela Lloyd voted against the decision.

Lloyd told the Press & Journal on Friday that she will decide closer to the June 3 meeting whether she will attend, based on her own review of CDC guidelines.

In a text message to the Press & Journal on Friday, Lloyd said that Reddinger's motion was made "with no prior discussion, at the end of the meeting, and I feel there was a lack of transparency which resulted in no research or discussion as to how this would be handled."

"My first priority is the safety and well being of the residents of Middletown, including the members of Borough Council and staff. As my vote indicates, I do not agree with holding the meeting in the MCSO,” she said. “We are forcing the residents to choose between coming to a meeting to weigh in on borough issues or to not come and not be heard. I do not believe it is fair to risk the health and safety of anyone."

Council has not met in person in council chambers with members of the public present since March 17, one day after council approved an emergency declaration closing the Municipal Building to the public.

When Knull was asked by the Press & Journal on Friday when she thinks council can meet in person again, she said: “I unfortunately don't know the answer to that question. I would like to say when we reach yellow, but I would not be opposed to hold off until we reach green status because even at yellow those that are working from home are advised to continue to do so and we cannot have social gatherings more than 25 people. I would feel horrible if any resident or council member contracted COVID-19 because they felt the need to attend a meeting."