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Thursday, 18 February 2010

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Barbara Stratton

Sorry about your problems with the road John & Gretchen. Found this post interesting. I've noticed that local city & county commission meetings allow the public to attend as required. However, no information about covered subjects is furnished to the public so a lot just goes by. I'm surprised they don't supply budget info since it gets talked about, etc. We get to see things voted on, but have no idea what's being discussed a lot of the time. Maybe the local Tea Party organization can check into what is meant by open to the public.

jsqrisk

The County Commission does supply budget information. The public is welcome to attend the public meetings, of which there are usually four a month: two work sessions and two regular meetings. Not many people show up. Typically folks attend only if there's some specific item that affects them in particular, and then they get up and leave when that item is over. That's maybe slowly changing. If you want to hear discussion, go to the work session.
The minutes usually say who spoke and a pithy sentence about what, but of course aren't available until after the next meeting, so they can be approved.
The VDT has severe space constraints and usually sticks to whatever they consider the most important items.

Barbara Stratton

You seem to be well versed in how it works, but I don't think most citizens including myself understand the process. It is my understanding that citizens can only listen and not speak at the work sessions which would probably make a better fact finding venue if there is more discussion, but not a place to ask questions. Citizens can only speak at the regular meetings if they pre-register and state what they intend to speak on so meetings are really just listening sessions for most citizens also and most issues seem to have already been decided, which probably refers back to attending work sessions. Minutes can be a good summary of what took place, but the info they contain has usually been voted on so it is mostly history. They also have to pass through another meeting session to be approved before they are available for public posting and by that time they are really history. Valdosta's government 101 class is probably a good teaching experience. I called the week it was announced in the paper and it was already full with no alternates list available and no offer to leave a name for next year. I think more citizens would attend work sessions and meetings if they understood the process.

jsqrisk

Indeed, most people don't know how it works. This is why the government 101 sessions Valdosta is having and the county is thinking about are a good idea.
Traditionally the work sessions do not have questions from citizens. However, the current chairman, Ashley Paulk, usually notices if somebody is there looking inquisitive and asks if they have anything they want to say. In addition, before and after the meetings, the commissioners and staff are usually receptive to people walking up and asking questions.
Some local government bodies do require pre-registration to speak: the Valdosta School Board does that; I don't know about the Lowndes County School Board.
The County Commission merely asks you to state your name and address. Same for Valdosta City Council and Hahira City Council.
At the moment, the best way to understand the process (which is slightly different for each local governmental body) is to attend the meetings. And of course to read the LAKE blog and comment on it like you're doing.

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