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Commissioners deemed to have speech disabilities can be given greater allotment
Deborah Evans color

Warren County commissioners with speech disabilities could be given more time to make their point than commissioners without. 

Commissioner Deborah Evans requested that members of the county’s Legislative Committee – Carlene Brown, Joseph Stotts, Carl D. Bouldin, Robert Hennessee and Daniel Owens – consider allowing persons with speaking disabilities, such as herself, more than four minutes to speak during discussions. 

Per the proposed policy, each commissioner is allowed four minutes during discussions to make remarks. Once a commissioner uses his or her allotted time, they cannot speak again until every commissioner has had a chance to speak. Then, that commissioner will be allowed four more minutes. 

“I would suggest we add a line that any member with a disability or speech problem will be allowed an extended period of time,” said Brown.  

Hennessee suggest they clarify what “extended period of time” meant, but Brown discouraged that change. 

“I feel like we might be presented with different disabilities and we need to decide at that time, or the chairman can, how much additional time is needed,” Brown said. “Every disability can be different. An extended period of time would really be up to the chairman to determine. I think every situation is going to be unique.” 

Brown said Charles Curtiss, executive director of the Tennessee County Commission Association, strongly discouraged placing a time limit restriction. 

“If the chairperson sees that the person has made their point and is now going back over the same statements, they can stop it,” said Bouldin. “I don’t think we have to spell everything out. Common sense has to come into play every now and then.”

Members unanimously agreed to add an addendum to the policy that allows the chairman to provide additional speaking time to someone with a disability.