Looks like the city council isn’t the only body concerned with uppity voters: Robert Wilonsky with the Dallas Observer points out the DISD board is a little concerned about frequent fliers, too. After taking a look at DISD’s proposed changes (you can read them here), they don’t seem as onerous as the city council’s, but included is a proposal to limit the number of times a citizen can address the board to twice a month.
Now, for most of us, twice a lifetime is probably more than enough, and twice a month really should be plenty for 99.9 percent of the people out there. But just as with the city council’s discussion-strangulation rules, is it really necessary to write into the regulations a twice-monthly limit when the maximum amount of time anyone can currently speak at a meeting would be, say, four times (once weekly) for three minutes a shot?
That’s a total of 12 minutes a month for the mouthiest constituents today, versus the proposed limit of six minutes monthly after if the proposed changes are approved. I know this adds to the length of the meetings, and I know that a good number of the people doing the frequent talking really don’t have a whole lot to say about the issues of the day, but still: We elected trustees to listen to us, and even the loudmouths deserve their say.
As for the other changes — primarily concerned with attendees not commenting randomly during meetings, obeying directives from the presiding officer and allowing removal of people who refuse to follow the rules — I don’t have a problem with those.
As you’ve probably seen the TV clips of the many health-care meetings going around the country, people can get pretty cranked up at a meeting, but I just don’t see how yelling and spitting and running up to speakers to stick fingers in their faces advances anyone’s cause. In fact, that type of behavior really just disrespects the rest of the audience, since the mouthy resident is taking over the entire meeting.
We’re all adults (or we’re supposed to act like them anyway), so we all need to obey the rules. But the rules need to continue to allow people to have their say, too.