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The Scoop 3-23
Muzzle comes off at county meetings
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Local residents don't have to wear a muzzle to Warren County Commission meetings.
In a vote that shows commissioners do value feedback from their constituents, the County Commission unanimously passed a resolution Monday night to give folks a chance to speak at monthly meetings.
The only hitch is residents have to jump through a few hoops before they are given the chance to walk to the podium. According to the resolution that was passed, residents must call the county executive's office or contact their commissioner in time to be added to the monthly docket. Since dockets are mailed 10 days in advance, they will need to call about 13 days before each monthly meeting.
Another catch: A maximum of five residents will be given the opportunity to speak at each monthly meeting. And each resident will only be allowed two (2) minutes.
For those of you trying to figure all this out, county officials don't want to hear more than 10 minutes of comments at their monthly meeting. I've heard it said by several commissioners this is because no one wants to "stay there all night."
Let's see, Monday night's monthly meeting lasted a grand total of 45 minutes, and that was with a five-minute delay while everyone waited for one county commissioner to move his car. Just think what might happen if a meeting endured for an hour.
I say all this realizing I'm only emphasizing the drawbacks. The overwhelming positive is residents will now have the opportunity to address the Warren County Commission during its monthly meetings. This is three giant steps forward.
Said Commissioner Terry Bell, "I'm not against anybody talking, but we have to have rules and procedures."
I understand this point. Truth be told, this privilege of addressing the Warren County Commission will rarely be used in my estimation. There will be months and months at a time when no one says a word.
Then a hot-button issue will roll along and up to five people will have up to two minutes to say what's on their mind.
Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin pointed out residents have more opportunities to address their elected officials than once a month. He said visitors are always recognized at committee meetings and that's where a bulk of the discussion and decision making takes place. He also said commissioners could be called, emailed, or approached in person.
The resolution approved Monday night is not a perfect plan, but it's a much better plan. It gives local residents a clear indication of what they need to do to air their concerns and let their voice be heard.
It was the right move to make and I applaud this decision.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.