By Jessica Mathews /

Amid escalating inappropriate behavior, the Tyrone Township Board has adopted a formal code of conduct policy for public meetings.

There have been numerous contentious meetings with heated public comments and exchanges that involve personal attacks and allegations, inappropriate language and general disrespect toward board members.

The board met Tuesday night and adopted the new policy which addresses meeting decorum and addressing a board or commission as well as the recording and telecasting of meetings.

Supervisor Mike Cunningham stated that the Open Meetings Act allows townships to set rules governing their meetings. He said they’ve had some public comments about conduct that they agree with and thus decided to draft a policy so there are clearly defined rules of engagement. Cunningham stressed the purpose of meetings is to conduct township business, with public comment.

The policy specifically states that persons in the audience will refrain from behavior that disrupts a public meeting. That includes making loud noises, clapping, shouting, booing, hissing, interrupting board or commission members or other members of the public, or engaging in any other activity that disturbs, disrupts or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting.

Three residents commented on the new policy.

One stated that “if somebody on the board needs to be chewed out, this is a good place to do it”.

Resident Scott Dietrich said he felt they do pretty good and while some people do get a little bit out of control, “no one has killed each other”. He said he knows they argue a little bit but that’s how they get stuff done in the township, adding everyone is neighbors and they’re just voicing opinions. Dietrich further asked that the board not put too many rules on people in the audience and felt they could agree to work together.

Resident Jannette Ropeta, who regularly videotapes meetings and is pictured, argued that she was intentionally being censored by the new policy as it stipulates recordings must be done from a designated back corner of the meeting room. She further alleged there is no rhyme or reason to the rules and maintained they are broken and not enforced.

The new code of conduct is attached.