Sunday, October 28, 2012

Free Speech takes a hit: Bentonville School Board members discuss Draconian changes to public comment policy

Posted By on Sun, Oct 28, 2012 at 12:03 PM

It’s sort of intriguing how the most conservative of communities, ones where the words “Freedom and Liberty” might be expected to be emblazoned on the uniforms of city employees, find certain freedoms to be inconvenient at times.

The Bentonville School Board, during their retreat on Saturday, discussed making some changes to their public comment policy that would have the folks in some cities - Fayetteville, for example - storming the ramparts.

According to Tony Prothro, assistant director of the Arkansas School Boards Association, “open mic” sessions, where members of the public can speak to issues they feel are important, can be a problem at times.

He also said the magic words that so many civic bodies have fallen in love with over the years, that public comments aren’t required, and if they did still choose to offer the service, well, there were ways to get around talking about difficult subjects.

According to this morning’s article in the Northwest Arkansas Times, Prothro went to say:

“Those wishing to speak could be asked to fill out a form before the meeting.”

That way, the listeners-that-be could decide whether or not a person was worthy of addressing them. Because they had read the form, you see, and decided what questions they did or did not want to deal with.

And, of course, the board could limit the member of the public who dared to speak in the first place to only speak about what was on their little form.

Prothro said that residents might want to address personnel matters. At this point one might have to ask, couldn’t someone on the board simply say, “We sorry, but we can’t discuss that.”

Travis Riggs, president of the Bentonville School Board said that they should, indeed, review their comment section. Riggs said that he himself is interested in having the public fill out such forms. He said that the forms would only be used to let the board know what the person is about to address.

No form deviates allowed.

“Requiring them to register beforehand is not taking away their right to speak.,” he added.

Kudos to board member Grant Lightle, who said that he had a problem with any attempt at content restriction.

Public comment sections have long proven to problematic for civic bodies. The Washington County Quorum Court, for example, moved their public comment section to the end of the meeting, rather than the beginning, some years ago. Some bodies simply don’t have them. No fuss, no muss.

Without public comments, elected bodies work in a bubble. The whole notion of having to have your comments “approved” by the body you wish to address is distasteful at the very least.

******
Quote of the Day

Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make for yourself. - Alice Walker

rsdrake@cox.net

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Richard Drake

  • Political Party Platforms throughout the years: Yada Yada Yada

    We have been having a great deal of fun lately, what with the GOP’s promise to go after porn, but really, the platforms each party comes up with every four years are sort of only good for amusement, and massaging the party faithful, who prefer not to think too hard on the subject.
    • Jul 28, 2016
  • Trump’s Cleveland Address: 400 Score and 70 years ago

    The man who had been cleared by his very own personal physician as likely to be the healthiest man ever to assume the office of President of the United States flexed his large, powerful hands, his thick, lengthy fingers adjusting his Chinese-made Trump Tie and peered out at the huge crowd in the stadium.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Trump campaign accuses Obama administration of “misusing” time travel technology

    A GOP spokesman today denied allegations that Melania Trump “borrowed” parts of her speech to the GOP convention, and said that the incident proved what Donald Trump has believed all along - that the Obama administration has been using time travel technology in order profit politically.
    • Jul 19, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Lest we forget: Fayetteville has been a community where violence has been committed against the gay community

    While no doubt those who were trembling at the thought of sending their sons and daughters into public restrooms alone can now sleep the sleep of the just (and the paranoid), and those who also relish the idea of turning away business from those they find yucky can run up and down the streets in victory, it might be a good time to quietly reflect on the fact that, though some might vociferously deny it, in the not-so-recent past, Fayetteville hasn’t been such a healthy place for those who have been gay, or even the children of those who have been gay.
    • Dec 9, 2014
  • One Christmas, brought to you by abject poverty

    We have so many issues which bring us together - and split us apart, yes - in Fayetteville, that a simple issue like working class poverty often slips through the cracks.
    • Dec 24, 2014

Most Shared

  • Best of Arkansas 2016

    Readers elect their favorites.
  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
  • These Hogs won't be thin

    This may be the strongest returning receiving corps that the Razorbacks have fielded in the post-Petrino days.
  • Trump-Putin 2016

    Among the thousand bizarre aspects of the presidential campaign has been the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin axis.

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation