Who needs public comment?

The board approved the first reading of a new board policy to reduce the time allowed to people wishing to address the board. The time limit will be reduced from five minutes to three minutes. Mr. Orozco and Mrs. Poulter both argued there was no reason to reduce the time limit since very few people reached the existing five minute limit already.

Without one of the three remaining board members agreeing to keep the existing limit, the change will be left in for approval at the next meeting. Mrs. Lara had no serious comment. Mr. Hackney asked, “Can’t the board president waive the limit at her discretion?” This was something that had already been confirmed minutes earlier. And, Mrs. De Longchamp’s contribution was to tell us that other public groups holding meetings used a similar three minute time limit.

Why am I not surprised? In future board meetings the board will be taking up more budget cuts, possible layoffs and the development of the new $10,000,000 district office. Is it any wonder they want to restrict public comment?

Earlier in the year, the board authorized the addition of a clause to the introduction of the public comment period that threatens legal action against inappropriate speech. When I first started attending board meetings, there was no limit. There is seldom more than one speaker a meeting but they still feel it is necessary to cut back individual speaker time by 40%. Have you ever tried to make a point in less than three minutes? It’s not easy. Why even allow three minutes? A couple years back, board trustee David Sanchez made a comment that these meetings were not for the public, they were for the board. His vision has come true.

I have had to miss the last couple board meetings for personal reasons but I have been able to follow the meetings via the audio minutes on the website. I don’t see any point in attending these meetings in person anymore. I’m not saying I won’t but I ask, what’s the point? I will continue to stay involved and continue to comment on the actions of the board and the administration but it will be hard to find a reason to miss family time so I can sit in a two hour meeting where my comments aren’t welcome.