New meeting procedure causes conflict - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

New meeting procedure causes conflict

September 13, 2005

Pearson - Atkinson County residents packed their Board of Commissioners' meeting room Tuesday morning, in hopes of changing a new parliamentary procedure they say is unfair. "They don't want citizens to speak because they want several authority members to run the town like they want to," said Jacqueline Vickers.

The new procedure eliminates the public input portion of the meeting, limits the amount of time commissioners can speak on an issue, and changes the meeting time from 7 p.m. to 10:00 in the morning. Commissioner Jerry Metts voted against it. "It restricts the freedom of a citizen and the commissioner who is elected by the people, it gives them a limit of two minutes to debate an issue brought before the commission," said Metts.

Citizens can only speak if they ask to be on the agenda one week before the meeting, but the agenda isn't even posted until after that deadline. Commissioner Metts says that doesn't make sense. "They don't even know what's on the agenda when they have to ask to be on it," said Metts.

He'd also wants the meeting changed to a larger location, and a time when more people can attend. "This 10:00 in the morning meeting, that shuts a lot of people out who are working daytime jobs," said Ronnie Ricketson.

These Atkinson County residents feel the new meeting structure shuts their voice out of local government, but Commission Chair Edwin Davis says its necessary for an organized meeting. "It gives us some order and structure to the conduction of our meeting and its drafted by our attorney who has a lot of experience," said Davis.

It may be legal, but these citizens say its just not right. And if they can't change it now, they will come election time.

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