Thursday, October 18, 2012

A public service announcement

Dear citizens,
If you are planning to attend Trenton's city council meeting tonight and intend to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting, let us offer you some basic do's and don'ts.
  1. State your name and address for the record.
  2. You have three minutes. Make it count.Keep your comments focused, preferably relevant to one of the topics at hand, items on the docket.
  3. If you don't have anything prepared to say, don't feel obligated to take your three minutes just because you are present and signed the piece of paper.
  4. Do not repeat yourself over and over. It doesn't help make your case.
  5. If others who speak before you have addressed the issue you were planning to speak on and you agree with them, just say so. There is no need to repeat the points already made. Just say you agree with those individuals who have already stated they are in favor of or against whatever.
  6. If you are coming to speak about the Mayor's Learning Centers, please know that we all understand what services such facilities are meant to provide. We recognize they are the same services provided by professional staff on a regular, dependable, basis at the Trenton Free Public Library. Consider supporting the notion of taking the money proposed being spent on the Learning Centers and adding it to the appropriation for the real thing, the Trenton Free Public Library. We also realize that the Mayor, or more likely his brother, has probably asked you to come and plead your case before council.
  7. Proposing solutions and suggesting courses of action are good. Doing so without knowing what you are talking about is not. Please don't waste the council's time, our time or your time suggesting things that cannot be done. If you are not sure, ask if it can be done, don't demand it.
  8. Be courteous and respect everyone's time (and patience). When your three minutes are up, you are done. Finish your sentence (not your paragraph, not your point, not your resume), say thank you. Sit down.
The purpose of a city council meeting is for the council to take care of the matters before it. State law mandates that there has to be public comment. It does not have to come at the top of the agenda. It could come at the end.
Taking too much time at the podium delays council from doing their work. They have enough distractions without you standing there spilling your life story simply because you like the sound of your voice coming back through the public address system.
Thank you. 

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