Toward Night Meetings
NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
The solution to the Sussex County Council meeting time dilemma is so simple.
Instead of holding four meetings a month, council should cut back to two night meetings a month.
Crazy, you say?
Well, Councilman George Cole wasn't lying when he said that much of what council does isn't worth driving to Georgetown for.
Cole made the statement before council voted 3-2 against a night meeting schedule at its regular meeting on Tuesday morning, Dec. 19, 2000.
But even with all of the stuff that isn't worth driving to the county seat for, the meetings still only last about an hour-and-a-half a week.
Going to two meetings a month would give us council meetings of only 2 1/2 to 3 hours in length, so that wouldn't be a real hardship on anyone.
In fact, think of all of the problems it would solve.
For one, it would reduce the amount of driving time for all of those senior citizens that so concern Councilmen Dale Dukes and Lynn Rogers.
Dukes is also concerned about how hard council members are working these days, so this would save him and the other council members a couple of hours of driving time to and from Georgetown each month, plus another hour or so in meeting time by only having to approve the minutes and agenda twice a month, only having to go through the Pledge of Allegiance and Lord's Prayer twice a month, etc.
And I'm sure if Councilman Dukes asked all of those newspaper reporters whose deadlines he is so concerned about, they'd tell him that "two meetings are better than four, one meeting is better than two".
Of course, this doesn't address Councilman Dukes' concern for the many night-shift workers who now take advantage of council's day-time meeting schedule.
You're probably thinking about now, "Hey Magill, did you hit your head today? How can a county growing as fast as Sussex get by with only two meetings a month?"
Well, my solution makes more sense than the whiny, half-baked excuses county council members served up during Tuesday morning's council meeting for not holding meetings at night, when they would be more convenient to the largest number of Sussex Countians.
From a personal standpoint, night meetings would make my life harder, but public access to its government isn't about me, or about Dale Dukes, or Lynn Rogers, or Finley Jones (all of whom voted against the night meeting trial period).
Public access is about the public and what is most convenient for the public. Since most members of the public work during the day, common horse sense tells you that night meetings would be most convenient for them to attend.
Instead of spending time cooking up excuses, we suggest council members get back on the stick and figure out a way to make night meetings work.
We'd go, for now, with Phillips' suggestion to hold council's public hearings at night. After all, those are designed for public input and should be accessible to the county's citizens when it is most convenient for them.
That's just the common sense thing to do.
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