Council meetings are headaches

Published 8:57 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I remember my first Selma City Council meeting. I will never forget the feeling of how blood rushed to my head and gave me a migraine the first time I heard residents come and speak to the council with their concerns.

Many of the residents who come and address the council are pleasant. These folks come before the leaders of the city to tell them what they are doing with their non-profit organizations.

Those from SABRA Sanctuary and the Central Alabama Animal Shelter Board, just to name a few, have come before the council in the past requesting the use of city facilities for fundraisers. Through their whole spiel I just smile. I think, “Here are people who are just at this meeting to make Selma a happier, better place.”

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But then there are others who get up to speak and that migraine sinks in. There are residents that do not respect the three to five minute time limit for speaking and they only discuss emotional, divisional issues.

But as upset as I was that first meeting I ever attended in Selma, today I go to council meetings with an entirely different demeanor. I almost play the part of a drunken housewife. When people bicker and argue, I just throw my head back and laugh (or check Facebook on my phone.)

Tuesday’s council meeting lasted for — wait for it — a whopping five hours. As a reporter on a deadline it is my responsibility to get back to the paper and write up stories. I left at 8 p.m., three hours into the meeting, to be able to write my story. I feel bad for those who sat there until 10 p.m.

The meeting could have lasted so long because a public hearing about Crown Ridge was part of the meeting, but that lasted for one hour exactly. There is still no reason why the meetings should last this long.

That is why I commend the council, Mayor George Evans and council president Corey Bowie for pushing the citizens request portion of the meeting to the work session that is a week prior to the council meetings.

The council, as I understand, hopes that this will be a time-saver but will still allow residents to come and air their concerns, complaints and requests.

Maybe next time the meeting will not last so long that I can stay through the whole meeting. Also without the complaints and rants of residents I won’t always leave those meetings with a migraine.

I know the hearts of those on our council have only the best intentions and that is why I hope that these council meetings will be more positive. I fear that when meetings drag on for a long period of time, council members are more prone to make rushed and hastened decisions just to get out of the meeting faster.

Selma is better off that this is no longer the case.