Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rules of Engagement

If someone has never been to a city council meeting, he/she might not realize that it is NOT, in fact, a free-for-all. There are very specific rules governing who gets to speak and when, for how long they get to speak, and how the council is allowed to respond -- as well as when that response is allowed to happen. Furthermore, it is not the right of the Mayor to change the rules at whim or as residents request. She is BOUND by the rules just as we are.

For example, at regular council meetings, there is a time of public comment. Visitors may speak for up to five minutes on any topic, but they MUST address the chair (Mayor), not individual council members of the audience. If there are more than 15 speakers, it is up to the council to forward a resolution and vote to decrease the time to three minutes so that they can conduct their business afterward.

Since so many of the repeat speakers come NOT to address council but to perform for the cameras, I feel it's a reasonable request. Do we REALLY need to hear the psychotic rantings of someone off the rails spewing insults at anyone who disagrees with her for five minutes with three would suffice???

I think not.

Special sessions are similarly structured...public comment there is limited as well, and it takes place at the end of the session. Sometimes comments are limited to one minute, and council is not bound to respond at that time. Rules do not allow for it.

And truly, if one only wanted an answer to a question he/she is asking at the podium at a council meeting, wouldn't it make more sense to ask the question directly to someone who CAN answer YOU directly?? Many times I've sent an e-mail or gone up to a council member in person and received that which I was seeking.

Speaking at the podium serves a distinct purpose. Sometimes it's to bring attention to a matter. Sometimes it's to speak to the viewing public. Sometimes it's to address the entire council and administration collectively in thanks or appreciation.

But lately...with some of the loudest, rudest, most volatile and combative speakers...it's merely to incite. Their goal is not to affect positive change in our community.

Their goal is to embarrass the city government.
Their goal is to deepen a sense of distrust in the city government.
Their goal is to destroy what has made Troy great for many years.

Watch the faces and names of those who show up repeatedly to spew venom. Listen carefully to what they say week-to-week: that message often changes to suit their current agenda. See who is asking for special rules to suit his/her own purposes and why.

Most of all...stay engaged. Saving Troy depends on it.

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