Monday, June 5, 2017

Remember. Public comment at City Commission meetings is still two (2) minutes.

“Hmmm. How do I give public comment?” Two instructional videos are below.

Well. Looking over the agenda for tomorrow’s City Commission meeting, it looks as if the City of Lake Worth took my suggestion seriously after the debate about the pool last month. Put off making any truly hard decisions until the mayor and commissioners begin serving 3 year terms.

So topics like whether residents should have three minutes to speak at public comment instead of two minutes will have to wait a few more years.

And we’re going to have to wait and endure a few more years of residents complaining about the two minute limit within the span of two minutes and hearing that little bell ringing and the mayor saying, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”, over and over and over again.

Looking ahead, when the limit does become three minutes then we’ll have a line of residents complaining about the three minute limit — saying three minutes is too long — using all three minutes to make their point. By the way, you are not required to use all the time given to speak. If you’ve made your point in one minute, it is quite OK to return to your seat. You don’t have to wait for the little bell and the mayor saying, “Thank you”.

If you recall, public comment at Lake Worth Commission meetings used to be three minutes until things got so out of hand it was reduced to two minutes, thanks in large part to those such as Weetha Peebull and topics like fluoride in the water. Don’t remember who brought this up at the time but believe our mayor then was Jeff Clemens, now State Senator Clemens. He ended up getting so tired of the “dysfunction junction” back then and ran for a seat in the State House of Representatives.

And one more thing. Did you know Jeff Clemens has never lost an election? It’s true.

In 2019 when this topic is addressed once again, the time limit for public comment, the debate needs to be about CIVILITY and what to do when INCIVILITY occurs — and whether there needs to be public discussion on how to act in a civil manner at public meetings — not whether the public gets two minutes or three to speak. Here is an example of uncivil and un-charming public comment:

“If a boat-load of refugees came across on our shore here [Lake Worth’s Beach] how would we feel? I’d be ashamed to say that we’d probably take out guns and get rid of ‘em.
—Quote by JoAnn Golden (video below) at public comment, Lake Worth City Commission.

You may recall when JoAnn Golden (a former commissioner) who, at the 40 second mark in the video below, praised the City of West Palm Beach for all their incredible work to help the homeless in that city. But then later, at the 1:15 mark, Golden goes off the rails with a terribly unfair and insulting characterization of the caring and giving people of Lake Worth:

Now for an example of civil and respectful public comment.

Below is an instructional video, an excellent example how to give public comment at a City Commission meeting. Note how City resident Kathy Turk approached issues of importance to her. She didn’t get angry. She didn’t point fingers. And she didn’t put anyone “on the hot seat”. Read the bullet list and then watch the video for yourself:
  • At the 10:50 mark (click play and go to the minute marks) she begins her comment at the January 10th City Commission meeting.
  • At the 11:50 mark she begins speaking about the issue of unanswered emails and phone calls.
  • At the 12:50 mark about the pay increase for elected officials, she says, “. . . the pay is well worth the hours you put in.” She should know having 25 years of experience in Human Resources.
Hope you find this video helpful:

So. As to the question: Should public comment be two minutes or go back to three minutes once again? Or try an experiment. Try three minutes of public comment for a month and see how it works out. Then come back and address the issue once again.

On the upside, most of the ‘Weetha Peebull’ crowd doesn’t attend Commission meetings any more. That all stopped after City Manager Michael Bornstein installed cameras in the chambers in 2012. One of the best decisions ever by our city manager.

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