Commission chairman makes statement about public comments
By Bobby Lee McCulley | November 27, 2017 6:28 am
White County Commission Chairman Stanley Neal made a statement during the Nov. 20 board meeting about recent comments made by another elected official.
“Before I recognize any member from the audience, I would like to say something, and then I would like to read a statement,” said Neal. “Since I’ve been a member of this commission body, I’ve seen a lot of different people come and speak before this commission body.
“I’ve seen people come forward and spoke about something positive. I’ve seen some who have spoke wanting something, and I’ve seen some that have spoke negatively towards this commission about certain issues or projects.
“But in that time, I have never had seen anything get out of hand or become a circus that has been suggested.”
Recently, during a Sparta Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, a motion was presented to create a segment on the city board’s meeting agenda to allow members of the audience to come forward and address the city board. However, that motion failed because of a lack of support from the city board members.
A comment was made during the city’s discussion on the matter by Sparta Mayor Jeff Young, stating, “It would put us in a situation sorta like the county [commission] has been – that it will create sort of a circus atmosphere.”
Sparta Board of Mayor and Aldermen has since discussed, during a work session, developing a set of procedures to be considered by the city board to allow public comments to be made during a portion of the city board’s meeting. The White County Commission has long allowed members from the audience to address the commissioners during a specific portion of their regular meetings.
After making his comments, Neal further stated, “Wanting to keep it that way, I would like to put some parameters in place as chairman of this commission. I will be reading a statement every time before we recognize any members in the audience who wishes to speak as long as I am chair.
“The statement that will be read before the public comment section of the commissions meeting states, ‘The county commission welcomes anyone to speak during this portion of the meeting that is set aside for recognition of members in the audience. The chairman asks that comments be addressed to the commission body and that they be limited to three minutes per speaker and that there would be no name calling or vulgar language used during the comments.”
Addressing the time limit requirements, Neal also stated, “A time limit for the speaker may be extended by any commissioner. This may be done by a commissioner asking a question or asking the chair to extend the time limit.”
“These rules are parameters and are in no way an attempt to prevent someone’s right to speak but to allow time for as many as possible to speak to the commission body,” added Neal.
There were no objections or comments made about the chairman’s statement or the parameters that have been put into place.