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Even at meetings, red light means stop

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

If you've ever watched the television show "Law and Order," you've seen scenes from the Appellate Court and the state Supreme Court where both sides make their oral arguments.
They stand in front of a podium which has three small lights, green, yellow and red, well in sight of the speaker.
When he starts, the green light is on. When time is almost up, the yellow light comes on, and when time is up, the red light glows, and the lawyer immediately says thank you and sits down.
Unfortunately, such discipline doesn't seem to apply to County Commission meetings.
The county now has these little lights on the podium where members of the audience speak to the group. Those who took the trouble to get on the agenda ahead of time get five minutes. The others who wish to speak unannounced at the meeting get two minutes each.
At last Tuesday's County Commission meeting, two speakers who did not get on the agenda stood up to speak, both about the taxing situation with Munroe Regional Medical Center.
The first man spoke for 9 minutes and 8 seconds, and the second for 6 minutes and 30 seconds.
One man got up after that and thanked the commissioners for not shutting off the speakers at the red light.
We disagree.
While people should have their say, they should have enough discipline to follow the rules. The commissioners should also have the fortitude to follow their rules and force spectators to abide by them.
What's going to happen at the May 1 meeting if several people get up to speak and each one talks for six or nine minutes. The meeting could take forever, and now a precedent has been set. The commissioners won't be able to do anything about it, since they didn't enforce the rules this time around.
Both speakers about the hospital made very good points, items that the commission should follow up on.
And the commissioners should be praised for the fact that, unlike the School Board, they let the public speaker portion of the meeting be televised, even if the TV channel can't get the schedule straight (the digital schedule on Cox said it was a School Board meeting on TV that night).
So a lot of things were done right. But let's streamline the process by following the rules, or let's change the rules so everyone knows where they stand.

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