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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County schools. You can email him at

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Portsmouth Council takes heat for removing public comments

The Virginian-Pilot reports today that the Portsmouth City Council is taking heat from the public after deleting some public comments from its meeting broadcasts.

It appears the council’s action was aimed at removing comments that were viewed as “personal attacks” on council members bur members of the public viewed it as censorship, according to the report.

Below is part of the report by Clay Barbour on Pilot-Online, the newspaper’s Web site.

Portsmouth reconsiders rules on off-agenda comments

Facing a chamber filled with residents unhappy over the removal of some public comments from City Council meeting broadcasts, some council members said Tuesday that they’re willing to reconsider the change.

The council announced last week that residents speaking about topics not on the agenda will no longer be seen on Portsmouth Channel TV or the city’s website. This is similar to the way such speakers are handled in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

The move was made in an effort to stem what some council members felt were personal attacks and speakers playing to the camera.

More than 50 people attended Tuesday’s meeting, many of them taking to the podium to argue with council members over what they felt was a form of censorship. At one point a group of about 25 stood in unison to show their opposition.

“You are depriving the citizens of the city,” said Bette Ashberry. “This is wrong, and I hope you reconsider.”

“The point is not what you think is relevant, it is what your audience thinks is relevant,” said Pat Simons.

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