I was very disappointed to see the last Suwannee County Commission meeting (Dec. 15) turn into a childish display of power.
Near the end of the meeting, when it came time for public comments, the chairman called the names of the people who had signed up to speak and then let them speak for as long as they wanted. I think the public comment section went on for approximately an hour. At one point I actually observed the chairman looking to his left with a big smile on his face. At the end of the meeting when each commissioner has a chance to bring up anything that they wish to bring up, the chairman said that what he allowed that night was what happens when other commissioners say “let them speak”. It appeared to be some kind of game that he thinks will allow him to curtail the public speaking in future meetings. As one of “them” who occasionally gets up to speak, I am very upset at his condescending tone when it comes to public input. I will remind him that “them” are the people who pay his salary; “them” are the people who elect the board of commissioners; and “them” have a right to voice their opinions when it comes to the decisions that the commission is making.
There obviously has to be rules for the public to speak and most of us have no problem with that. The attitude that we are being “allowed” to speak, or that what we have to say is not worthy of being listened to, needs to stop! The commissioners are elected by the people to represent us and they need to hear our input when issues are being discussed.
If the current chairman does not want to conduct the meetings in the way that they should be conducted, I suggest he resign his chairmanship and we can install another chairman. He has said that he is not running for re-election and even made the comment in another meeting that it made it easier to govern when you aren’t worried about getting votes in the next election. Does that mean that he doesn’t concern himself with what his constituents think? Maybe he should resign as commissioner. I’m sure our county has something in place in the event something like that would happen.