Public comment a plus

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

America: “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” According to information provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, all citizens of our country have a right to a prompt, fair trial by jury, right to vote in elections for public officials, right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship, right to run for elected office and freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” freedom to worship as you wish and lastly, freedom to express yourself.

The Charlotte County Board of Supervisors could soon add another avenue for citizens to express their voice to local government officials and those in the community. The matter, however, has been tabled until next month.

At a recent supervisors meeting, Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Donna Fore proposed adding a separate public comment period at the end of monthly meetings. “It’s my observation … normally at the end of a meeting, the public is allowed to make a final comment period,obviously restricted to three minutes, but they are allowed to come back at us with comments and perspective on things they heard today,” Fore said at the March supervisors’ meeting.

She said the reasoning for this is that sometimes the public may not have all the information on a specific topic and wish to comment after hearing the complete discussion. Currently, citizens are allowed three minutes at the beginning of each monthly supervisors’ meeting to address the board and public. Sign-ups are required.

The proposed second comment period would not require a sign-up. We believe by offering ample opportunities for citizens to address, the board would be doing a great service to the county. Additionally, it would be ideal if supervisors were allowed to engage in some dialogue with citizens during the new public comment period under specific guidelines.

If an additional public comment period is added, it will allow citizens to fully engage in the meetings as informed involved citizens.