Commissioners decide to give each other 5 minutes to talk at meetings' end

Settling a contentious issue among the five-member Fayette County Board of Commissioners, an agreement has been struck to allow each commissioner five minutes at the end of each meeting to speak on any matter he wishes.

The deal was brokered at the onset of Friday’s retreat meeting of the commission, as Commissioner Steve Brown has recently complained he has no avenue to address certain county matters, specifically those that aren’t up for consideration on the commission’s agenda.

When Commission Chairman Herb Frady argued that commissioners should be restricted to discussing solely county business, Brown complained such would be tantamount to censorship.

Frady complained that Brown didn’t need to use part of last Thursday night’s meeting to combat allegations that he had once supported the West Fayetteville Bypass.

“If those comments were made in public, and they were made in the newspaper, we should be able to address them in the public,” Brown said.

“Doing your own thing up there is not to the betterment of the county,” Frady replied, suggesting that some of Brown’s comments were for his “personal” benefit.

Brown countered that the bypass itself is county business that’s fair game for discussion.

“But not what people say about you,” Frady shot back.

Eventually the discussion got back on track as the commission came to agree that the five-minute commissioner comments, put at the end of the agenda, could be unfettered as to their content.

Commissioner Lee Hearn said he favored letting each commissioner have free reign in their five-minute address “so people will get to say what they want to say, and we may not like it but y’all may not like my golf swing, but that’s just tough.”

Hearn joked that he would use his alloted five minutes to speak about golf. That lead fellow Commissioner Robert Horgan to remark: “I’m looking forward to hearing about Lee’s golf game.”

Brown has said that in previous years, the commission agenda has included a listing at the end for “commissioners reports” which allowed individual commissioners the opportunity to make comments as they saw fit. In practice, however, it was seldom used other than for a commissioner to update his fellow commissioners on an activity he was monitoring or otherwise involved with.

Frady said allegations that he “took reports off the agenda” were incorrect, as he wanted commissioners to make sure items addressed by the commission were listed on the agenda for improved transparency “so the people at the meetings could see what they were going to be talking about.”

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