I saw this coming when people concerned about election integrity and opposition to the CO2 pipeline started showing up to MCC meetings;
But having those comment sessions at the beginning of meetings delays other work. And members of the public who are at a meeting for a specific item have to sit through lengthier public comment sessions.
The new policy, which hasn’t been adopted yet, would also reduce comment from five minutes to three.
(See Former Mayor Mike Huether’s 9 minute public input at the MCC meeting as a private property owner)
They of course are using the tired old argument that the ONE person asking for a rezone has to wait through public input, as if the public’s sentiments are not important.
“When I started, we didn’t have a time constraint,” Commission Chairwoman Cindy Heiberger said. “People rarely came to talk to us.”
That has changed, particularly in recent months with people who doubt the county’s election integrity.
Besides lowering the time limit to three minutes, the new policy would forbid speakers from using electronic recordings in their presentations, and paper handouts would have to be handed out in advance.
The reason people rarely show up to the meetings is because you have them at 9 AM on a Tuesday morning when common folk are working, it has very little to do with people being HAPPY with county government, they simply don’t know what you do because you conduct your business in non-opportune time slots and take days to post the replay of the meeting.
Commissioner Jeff Barth, who is soon to be retired from the commission, said the status quo has worked “pretty well” in his two decades as an observer and member of the commission.
“The fact that there has been some abuse in recent times isn’t a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said.
But that is what authoritarians do. When a couple of supposed bad apples show up and actually DISSENT the government their first reaction is to squash that dissent. The Sioux Falls City Council literally changed their public input policy because ONE person called the mayor an SOB, guess what, that person still comes and speaks at the meetings. You accomplished nothing except disenfranchising the rest of the public who have legitimate dissent.
As I have told the council in the past, general public input isn’t for birthday announcements and back patting it is to make our representative government aware of issues in the community. Sometimes those issues don’t have cute names like ONE, 52 or 437.
The more you limit the public to express themselves the more out of touch our government becomes.