'Trying to silence me': North York cellphone policy angers councilperson

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
North York Borough Council meeting, Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

A new policy for North York Borough Council would eliminate the use of cellphones by members during meetings, a move one councilperson says is an attempt to silence her.

The policy, which was enacted in a 5-1 vote last month, is the borough council's effort to keep members on task and paying attention during meetings, according to a copy of the policy.

Vivian Amspacher was the sole vote against the change.

"Once again the powers that be are trying to step on people’s First Amendment rights," she said in a Facebook comment. "(They're) trying to silence me."

Amspacher livestreams borough council meetings, as does borough secretary Brittany Reed.

North York Borough Council meeting, Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

During Tuesday's meeting, Amspacher said she monitors her livestream on her iPad to field any questions from viewers, adding that she doesn't use the technology to take calls. 

Council President Rick Shank replied that Amspacher could not use her phone to answer the questions.

"She doesn't have to get on the telephone to answer them," Shank said. "Record all you want, but a telephone can't be used."

North York borough Solicitor Walt Tilley added during the deliberation that anyone can record the meeting.

North York borough's new policy went into effect April 13.

"Just so everyone's aware ... right after you made the policy, there were two people on the phone," Amspacher said Tuesday.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.