Opinion

How Not to Run a Meeting | Letter to the Editor | Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet

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The other night, I attended the Old Town Area Parking Study (OTAPS) group meeting at City Hall.  The meeting started off with the Chairperson asking for comments from the public.  I was aghast, since not one item on the agenda had even been discussed!!  What were the citizens in attendance going to base their comments upon? As a result, only a few citizens commented at this meeting.

The City should be specific as to how their Boards, Commissions and Committees run their meetings. In my opinion, those that cover their entire agenda and then request public comments also do a disservice to the process.

The most effectively run meetings should use an agenda, and after each item on the agenda is discussed, public comments are then solicited prior to voting on the issue.  In this manner, comments by the citizens attending the meeting are germane and timely to the issue being discussed, which makes for a truly democratic process.

In addition, it would behoove all Chairpersons to become familiar with Roberts Rules of Order, so they can efficiently run their meetings. Recently I witnessed a Chairperson who was totally unaware of how to conduct a vote, and had to have another committee member do it instead.  In some cases, City Staff appoints the committee chairperson, so  Staff needs to insure that the individuals whom they select are provided a set of guidelines (as a minimum) on how to run a meeting.

Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet

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