INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - City Commission meetings often run very long into the evening and members of the commission, the very cause of the lengthy sessions, plan to target citizens to cut back on the time.
Agendas of the commission sessions seem to show two separate times for citizens to talk. One comes near the beginning of the meeting; the other comes near the end. Why there are two is a mystery some observers wonder about.
But many citizens think residents should have an opportunity to speak publicly at meetings and the idea of limiting each speaker to one minute has stirred up opposition.
What happens - and has happened for years - at IRB commission meetings is that discussion among the members on individual subjects that come up have been allowed to ramble on interminably.
While there is a proposal to limit citizens to one minute, a parallel idea would limit each commissioner to three minutes for comments at the end of the meeting.
One question is why allow commissioners any time at all? They have the whole course of the meeting to talk and ruminate at great length while groggy citizens totter out of city hall headed for bed and Progress Energy dips into its electricity reserves to keep the lights on at city hall long into the night.
Over the years, various pledges have been made to terminate meetings at a specific hour, like 10 p.m. But, very often, the hour comes and a motion is made and approved to extend the time, which puts the limiting rule into the class of one of those made to be broken.
What is ironic is that those who create the long and drawn out meetings and who control the very nub of the problem, complain about the results of their own actions.
Most municipal government meetings hereabouts feature citizen comments and observation says that these are the one thing that does not make meetings long and tiresome.
Even if a slew of people show up to talk, the whole section of citizen comments can be limited to, say, 30 minutes.
Largo asks citizens planning to speak to fill out a card. This gives an idea of how much time can be expected to be spent on this aspect of the meeting.
What is troubling, in the minds of many, is that when time problems arise, the first inclination is to limit the voices of the people - the natural enemy of the elected official.
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