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Fayette changes public comment to require advance signup

Citizens wishing to address the Fayette County Commission at either of its two regular meetings will have to sign up just prior to the meeting.

That was one of the biggest changes in the new meeting rules adopted by the commission at its Aug. 11 meeting.

Some citizens had urged the commission to ditch the signup requirement because it would hamper those who might show up after the 7 p.m. meeting start due to metro Atlanta traffic.

However, the public comment period is one of the first items on the agenda, so anyone running late by any significant amount could end up being left out anyway.

There was some sentiment initially to moving public comment to the end of the meeting agenda, but a number of citizens complained that would make their comment ineffective. Ultimately the commission agreed to keep public comments at the beginning of the meeting,

Commissioner Steve Brown, who opposed some of the other changes to the ordinance, said he was against the rules but he would vote in favor as a matter of procedure. By voting in favor, Brown will be allowed to bring the matter up again at a future meeting in his effort to make changes.

Brown in particular opposed language that allows the commission chairman to rule “personal attacks and inappropriate remarks” out of order. He claimed such a rule was “arbitrary and capricious.”

Chairman Herb Frady said he didn’t think the public would see any difference in how the meeting is run, other than having to sign up for public comment.

Brown also opposed the signup procedure, saying that eight citizens walked into last Thursday’s meeting after it began but prior to public comment, noting all of them would not be given the opportunity to speak.

The chief reason for requiring the signups is to streamline the process of calling citizens to the podium in an orderly manner, several commissioners have said.

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The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everyone else. F. Bastiat

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