UPDATED: When will commission allow public to speak?

UPDATED: When will commission allow public to speak?

Won't require sign-up, but citizens may have to wait until end of meeting to speak

UPDATED for print version — Citizens wishing to address the Fayette County Commission in the future will not have to sign up a week in advance.

But they may have to wait to have their say to the end of any meeting, after all other business is conducted, under a proposal suggested Wednesday by Commission Chairman Herb Frady.

Frady noted that some of the citizens recently have become “boisterous” during public comments at the beginning of the meeting. Since there are sometimes Boy Scouts and other youths in the audience at the time, it’s not a good atmosphere, he said.

“It’s just not a good thing to see, or hear, some of the things that are being said, quite frankly. And the manner in which they’re said mostly,” Frady said. “People have a tendency out here to get a little bit ill.”

Commissioner Steve Brown opposed the move, saying it would disallow citizens from speaking about any item on the agenda.

“Having it afterward is a moot point,” Brown said.

Brown also said that citizens who wish to speak may have young children or other obligations that would preclude them waiting through the entire meeting for their chance to speak.

“I’d prefer to keep public comments at the beginning of the meeting because I know some people come here specifically to make a comment,” Brown said. “So to hold them in a meeting until the very end I think is kind of a disservice to the people who have come to the meeting to speak.”

Frady replied that he felt people coming to do business with the county should be handled first on the agenda, and he hoped that those wanting to make comments would stay until the end of the meeting.

“I would say if they don’t, they don’t have much interest in their government,” Frady said.

Commissioner Robert Horgan said he agreed with moving the public comments to the end of the agenda, though he also feels that commissioners “have to have a thick skin” about what is said to them.

Commissioner Lee Hearn didn’t comment about Frady’s proposal, but Commissioner Allen McCarty said he supported it too, noting that the commission would not be regulating any citizen’s ability to speak “or cause undue burdens on what they would like to say.”

“I’d also like to move public comments to a different portion of the agenda, to give people the chance to respond after the fact as to what we’ve said,” McCarty said. “I think that makes sense and they can comment on what our decisions were, what our discussions were and come in on the subject of that particular business session.”

Several days later, McCarty reversed course, saying in an email to The Citizen that he thinks the public comments should be the first item on the county’s agenda.

McCarty explained that he “voted” to move the matter forward to a regular commission meeting “where the public will see what and who votes for citizens rights.”

Since the beginning of the year, a handful of citizens have participated in public comment, meeting after meeting. All of them have been critical of three commissioners: Horgan, Hearn and Frady, particularly for their support of the West Fayetteville Bypass.

Most nights, with each speaker allowed up to five minutes each, the public comment portion of the agenda takes at least a half hour. Although the public comments are near the top of the agenda, if there are any public hearings to be conducted those occur prior to the public comments.

Even moving the public comment to the end of the agenda, people would still be allowed “to speak whatever they’d like to speak to,” Frady said.

The commission is not contemplating a reduction in the five-minute limit for citizens addressing the board.

Another potential change would require citizens to register immediately prior to the meeting if they wish to comment. Currently, citizens sign in after they raise their hands and are asked to step to the podium to give their comments.

Requiring a sign-in just prior to the meeting would make it easier to call speakers to the podium, Frady said.

None of the commissioners opposed that concept.

In his comments, Brown boasted that when he was Peachtree City Mayor, he accepted public comments on every agenda item. However, that was not the case at a late February 2002 council meeting in which he cut off a handful of people who wanted to speak about convening workshops to study creation of a sports and entertainment authority.

In that meeting, Brown silenced the development authority’s chairman, even after the chairman was asked to speak by Council member Annie McMenamin. McMenamin had asked Development Authority Chairman Tate Godfrey to respond to some of Brown’s allegations.

Several days after that meeting, Brown told The Citizen that the reason he withheld citizen comments was because he “didn’t want to get in a heated debate on the tennis center.”

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EARLIER ONLINE VERSION

Won't require sign-up, but citizens may have to wait until end of meeting to speak

Citizens wishing to address the Fayette County Commission in the future will not have to sign up a week in advance.

But they may be moved to the end of the meeting, under a proposal suggested Wednesday by Commission Chairman Herb Frady.
Frady noted that some of the citizens recently have become “boisterous” during public comments at the beginning of the meeting. Since there are sometimes Boy Scouts and other youths in the audience at the time, it’s not a good atmosphere, he said.

“I think the county needs to conduct its business first,” Frady added.

Commissioner Steve Brown opposed the move, saying it would disallow citizens from speaking about any item on the agenda.

“Having it afterward is a moot point,” Brown said.

Brown also said that citizens who wish to speak may have young children or other obligations that would preclude them waiting through the entire meeting for their chance to speak.

Frady replied that he felt people coming to do business with the county should be handled first, and he hoped that those wanting to make comments would stay until the end of the meeting.

“I would say if they don’t, they don’t have much interest in their government,” Frady said.

Commissioner Robert Horgan said he agreed with moving the public comments to the end of the agenda, though he also feels that commissioners “have to have a thick skin” about what is said to them.

Commissioner Lee Hearn didn’t comment about Frady’s proposal, but Commissioner Allen McCarty said he supported it because it would allow the citizens to give feedback on what decisions the commission made, and what was said leading up to those decisions.

Since the beginning of the year, a handful of citizens have participated in public comment, meeting after meeting. All of them have been critical of three commissioners: Horgan, Hearn and Frady, particularly for their support of the West Fayetteville Bypass.

Most nights, with each speaker allowed up to five minutes each, the public comment portion of the agenda takes at least a half hour. Although the public comments are near the top of the agenda, if there are any public hearings to be conducted those occur prior to the public comments.

Even moving the public comment to the end of the agenda, people would still be allowed “to speak whatever they’d like to speak to,” Frady said.

The proposal was not voted on, as county staff will have to prepare a formal modification of the existing county policies to be voted on at a later date.

BHH
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So what happened at last night's meeting?

Anything of interest?

Why is there no update on this today?

suggarfoot
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Frady had the police escort Steve Brown out of the meeting

If I understand correctly...Frady knew for 2 weeks what Brown was going to talk about but hadn't had time to look into it.

suggarfoot
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Meeting last night

I got an email about it. Let's wait till they get up. The email was dated 1am so I think they were quite upset. I hope it wasn't as bad as it sounded and I wouldn't do it justice to repeat it, but it sounded pretty bad.

BHH
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There should be wider cover in the media then.

I'll check WSB.

BHH
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There's no good reason not to have comment before and after

the commissioners discuss or take action on anything.

Doug
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Boo Herb Frady!

Mr. Frady has a LOT of nerve saying parents of young children who can't wait till the end of the meeting "don't have much interest in government."

I read every week on this site that Mr. Frady does have much interest in his constituents. He's really proved it this time around.

suggarfoot
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I agree with what everyone has said here

Everyone below has pretty much touched on how those meetings go. I've gone and there is no gang of snarling, bottle throwing, citizens.

What I saw was a lot of articulate people get up and make valid points on what they thought. I saw no one conduct themselves in a manner that was offensive.

The problem comes not from the citizens attending, but what the commissioners themselves are doing! They don't want to hear any objections and they are the ones who's actions are questionable. Both the way they are conducting our public business and themselves, has brought the ire of the taxpayers down on them. If they are too touchy to have the public give their thoughts in the manor I've seen, they should step down.

Let's back up to Horgan rolling down the road on a Sunday afternoon smokin his wacky tobacky. What he does in his home, is none of our business. But on a public road where he could have hurt someone, he brought his private life into the public eye. He made us wonder how we could have elected someone with such pathetic judgment.

Then here comes Hearn with his cousin. I'm sorry, the man who he is such good friends with for years, goes to his church, and that he can vouch for is such a good upstanding person, but he doesn't know he is his cousin? He also doesn't know he is head of a land trust next to the bypass that is benefiting relatives. WOW! Again we wonder how on earth we could have elected someone that played us for such fools.

When their judgement is questioned, Horgan pouts, Hearn evokes God, and Frady is in the corner hiding behind the Boy Scouts. Not exactly what the public was looking for in an explanation of their actions.

A big chunk of the problem is we have 3 commisioners with no people or leadership skills what so ever.

Then we get to the meat of it. The Bypass. Smith and Maxwell lost their seats over it, so the public's opinion of it is quite clear. We can't afford it now, nor want it. These 3 commisioners have plainly thrown in with the developers on this and there is no where to hide.

The commisioners are doing the only thing they know how todo. Hide or sulk. They have clearly circled the wagons and are down to their last bullet. Unfortunaly for all, they decided to shoot it at the public rather than use it where it would have done us all the most good...on themselves.

In you think this comment is mean, take a look at Frady's picture above!

roundabout
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sugarfoot

Mr. Frady does resemble Mr. Dick Cheney!
Isn't that the type we want running things?

BHH
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I suggest you move public comment to a seperate meeting.

Meeting the day before the regular commission meeting and all commissioners be required to attend and listen to those comments before taking action on anything that will be considered at the regular meeting.

Frady, are you listening?

You've been doing this too long.

It's gone to your head.

You don't own this county any more.

Voter
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public comment

As a taxpayer citizen who attends these meetings (unlike some others who comment here) it is in the eye of the beholder as to whether the public is "boisterous". If applauding in agreement with a speaker is boisterous, or chuckling at an absurd statement by the commissioners than guilty as charged. Mr. Frady is also "boisterous" with his gavel and interruptions. I contend that the people attending, is more than just a handful, have been respectful in their comments (with the exception of a one time name calling, that the person later publicly apologized for). It is easy to understand that the commissioners do not like what is being said, as it is not agreeable to their agenda. When tax payers money is being wasted there comes a time when it is neccessary to speak up. That is what the public is doing in a respectful way. Moving the public input to the end of the meeting is like closing the barn door after the horse has left the barn. What the uninformed public needs to understand is this, the three commissioners do not give a damn what you think. To make that point, they will make it as difficult as they can for you to express your opinion.

ginga1414
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COMMISSIONERS' HIDDEN AGENDA

During the first couple of commission meetings this year, Chairman Frady bragged to the public that he was responsible for placing the Public Comment portion of the meetings toward the top of the Agenda and giving them 5 minutes to make their statements.

All of a sudden, he wants to put the Public Comment portion at the end of the Agenda.

There is a reason for that move.

There are reasons why Commissioner Hearn nominated his cousin for the position on our Elections Board.

Commissioner Hearn had a reason why he didn't disclose that Addison Lester is a family member.

There are reasons why Commissioner Hearn tells citizens that he will never change his mind about the West Bypass, and why he doesn't want to hear anymore about it, and doesn't want to discuss it anymore.

There are reasons why some of the commissioners won't consider using newly signed HB-240 to stop the possibility of raising property taxes and reducing the debt on our Justice Center.

Some of our commissioners have their reasons for not wanting citizens to make comments pertaining to all of the above issues.

Nuk, if the WFBC brought a lawsuit against the county when we knew there was the possibility of benefiting the whole county with HB-240, we would have been very negligent and irresponsible. Some of us and the Tea Party folks worked very hard to get HB-240 passed and signed by Gov. Deal.

We learned during those budget meetings that our previous commission administration did not allow maintenance on county vehicles, equipment, drainage culverts under roads, etc. They wanted to be able to say that they left the county with a financial cushion. In actuality, they passed along many problems that you and I will now have to pay for all because they wanted to look good during their campaign for re-election. They were willing to risk the possibility of roads collapsing and now we are faced with the problems they hid.

If our commissioners refuse to use HB-240 to help assure they won't have to raise property taxes, they are acting irresponsibly.

Some of us attended the county budget meetings and I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that the County Administrator and three commissioners discussed the fact that they will have to raise property taxes. There is a solution to that in HB-240.

If our commissioners don't use that solution to relieve ALL taxpayers of this county, we will undoubtedly be able to say that they don't care about us or Fayette County. WE CAN VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE! HOWEVER, THAT WILL COME TOO LATE TO PREVENT HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES. IT WILL BE TOO LATE FOR THOSE FOLKS WHO WON'T BE ABLE TO PAY THOSE HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES

NUK_1
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Three Commissioners? 4

Looks like 4 to me because McCarty also supports moving the public comment to the end of the meeting. That's the same guy who also said a few weeks he didn't want to kill the WFB too.

I don't see what is so hard to expect the public to shut up while other people are talking and acting like adults at a meeting and not cheering/booing fans at a football game.

As far as Hearn, Frady and Horgan caring about what the people who attend the meeting think.....no, they don't care. They don't have to care either. They'll all get booted from office next election but there really isn't much that can be done until then. Sure, everyone can go to meetings and say the same things over and over to them, but they have heard it over and over and obviously don't care. They've heard for a long time about being sued any day over the WFB and that was BS so they don't take the vocal opposition seriously at all. They seem to not care a bit about being re-elected so what do you do?

ptctaxpayer
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Poor Ole Herb Frady

Boy, is it time for you to move on.

Having the comments wait until the end of meeting, after the county does its business makes the comments, as Brown says, "moot".

Herb reminds me of the Old Southern Judge quote: "We gonna have a trial and then we gonna have a hanging."

Yeah, Herb, for keeping a remarkably open mind.

BHH
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Any commissioner worth his salt would invite public comment.

Public comments should be invited on the topics for discussion days in advance of the meeting even if they need to have another meeting in advance just for public comments.

The commission should have the public comments in advance of taking any action on anything.

Then after the action is taken the public should be allowed comment on the action taken.

The chairman has the responsibility of keeping the meetings in order not to squelch the public's opinions and views, disgruntled of not.

Any comments out of line for a boyscout should be corrected immediately if a boyscout is present. But that rule should already be in force.

If things are getting heated then maybe the boyscout should be prohibited and not the adult taxpayers and voters.

If Frady wants to assist with the boyscouts then he should pursue that at another time and place.

ginga1414
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County Business Is Our Business

There would be no county business to conduct if there were no people out here paying taxes.

The people who make public comments are there because they care about and are interested in our government.

Since the first of this year, there have been 9 commission meetings where the public was allowed to make comments. There have been 94 public comments since the first of 2011.

I know some of the people who have made public comments. Some of those people are couples. Both the husband and wife have jobs. They, also, have children. Some of those folks have to make arrangements for child care in order to attend commission meetings.

Some of those people have to make arrangements to have someone look after elderly sick parents.

Mr. Frady either isn't in touch with the real world, or he has ulterior motives when he says, "they don't have much interest in their government."

Some of our commissioners fail to state or recognize that all comments are a direct result of actions the commissioners initiated.

The sound system in the commission meeting room is deplorable. Everyone who attends those meetings talks about the fact that it is almost impossible to hear what is being said.

Personally speaking, I don't think the commissioners or the staff want the public to hear what is being said.

It is apparent that Mr. Frady doesn't want citizens making Public Comments!

He wants to destroy the citizens' interest in our local government. If he could accomplish that, he would be free to conduct the county's/citizens' business as he sees fit.

THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE!

roundabout
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It may be this way!

The comment about people "not having much interest in the government" might mean just how the entire county, considering everyone, is managed--- but just what effects them personally! Could mean that, I don't know---some people have trouble explaining what they mean, or don't have the patience to explain it.

Could be also that they have heard the same speech over and over!

There also has to be rules giving elected officials a proper forum to conduct business according to the rules they must go by.

They will throw you out of Congress if you disturb the order of business or haven't been invited to participate orderly.

For elected officials to reverse decisions due to racket in the meetings, is to invite further such conduct.

Get a lawyer! Split the fee with others.

Spyglass
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IF you can't conduct yourself as adults should

I have no problem with you being tossed from the meeting.

MajorMike
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Amen

.