Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About public comments
After what happened at Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting—when a group of Maryland firefighters weren’t allowed to speak because most were late for the public-comment period—I got to thinking about the process.
And about how much, or how little, most people know about it.
I know what to expect, only because I’ve been covering county government there for almost two years. If you had asked me before when your Average Joe gets a chance to have his say, I probably wouldn’t have known.
Here are a couple things you need to know if you want to make a comment to the board about whatever’s on your mind:
Meetings start at 6 p.m., and there are actually three meetings that are conducted, not one.
The Service Authority meets first, followed by the Wireless Authority. Then the Board of Supervisors meets.
What’s confusing is, it’s the same five people for all three boards. They’re just wearing different hats.
During each of the meetings, the chairman, Dale Sisson Jr., will ask if anyone wishes to make a comment before that particular board.
That’s the window of opportunity to speak. It’s not exactly announced with flashing neon lights.
Blink and you’ll miss it.
To show how confusing it can be, one woman a few months ago wanted to speak to the supervisors.
During the Service Authority meeting (which handles water and sewer stuff), the chairman said it was time for public comment.
She stood up. She wanted to address the supervisors. She sat back down when the chairman told her she was in the Service Authority meeting.
Then, the board moved on to the Wireless Authority meeting. Same thing happened. Woman stood up, was told it was the wrong meeting and sat back down again.
She finally got to have her say the third time she stood up.
And one more thing: public comment for the supervisors is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. So, if by chance, the two earlier board meetings end before then, the supervisors may go on to other business before they come back to public comment.