Unfortunately, there still appears to be quite a lot of contention at the library board of trustees meetings. Having attended a special meeting just last week, we were dismayed to see some hostility on the part of both trustees and members of the public. We were even more distressed to detect some bitterness and some real frustration.
Perhaps some of the raw feelings could be assuaged with just a few simple steps. Surely it would be relatively easy to insist on sticking to the stated three minute limit per item per person when it comes to members of the public. This is done at other meetings in this town, and it works well. Of course, if the chair of the meeting chooses to discard this rule, then the board must be prepared to listen to lengthy statements from all who wish to speak. (And we must note that the three minute rule is often eliminated when a particular board addresses a highly significant or controversial issue.)
And when it comes to those statements from members of the public, be they lengthy or just a couple of minutes, it behooves all members of all boards to listen carefully to each statement, to consider the issue, and to respond to that member of the public.
Yes, time can be a factor. We have even used this editorial space in the past to plead for shorter meetings around town. Each little issue at each meeting need not become a major topic of discussion. However, when a really important issue surfaces, we will be the first to call for a thorough airing and an opportunity for all to be heard.
The most respected, the most highly effective boards are the ones that take the time for comments and concerns from the public, and then sincerely consider that public input. The best organizations, the most well-run municipalities, are the ones that listen to the public.
By stating in advance how long each person may speak, and keeping to this rule; by recognizing all who wish to speak; by showing a sincere interest in all speakers and in what they have to say; by responding to all speakers, this would go a long way in avoiding comments such as the ''railroading'' comment made by a member of the public at the most recent library board meeting.
Wendy K. Kreitzman