Commissioners opt for open forum

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2006

JACKSON – The public forum is open.

Thanks to a comment made by Commissioner Robert V. Carter (D-4th), citizens of Northampton County will be able to speak to their leaders as needed.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, Carter said he wanted to open public comments to any item.

&uot;The comments section use to be an open forum,&uot; Carter said. &uot;I am of the opinion we should go back to open subjects at each meeting we hold.&uot;

Carter said he realized there were reasons for the original change to the system which allows open public comments on one agenda and comments related to agenda items only on the other, but he thought it was time to put those in the past.

Commission Chairwoman Virginia D. Spruill (D-2nd) said she saw merit to the suggestion and asked each board member to state their opinion.

&uot;I think anytime Commissioners meet, there should be a place and time for citizens to express themselves,&uot; Commissioner James Hester (D-1st) said. &uot;At the same time, we would be here all day.&uot;

Hester concluded by saying he saw &uot;legitimacy&uot; to Carter’s request, but did not want to make the change.

Commissioner James C. Boone (D-3rd) said he was a proponent for open subjects, but could see the necessity to enforce time restrictions on those who spoke.

The problem was resolved by Commissioner Fannie P. Greene (D-3rd) who said she was open to the idea of not limiting speakers, but wanted to try it on a temporary basis.

Hester said he had no problem with trying it for a while.

&uot;Normally, people take two minutes at the most,&uot; Carter said. &uot;I think it would be more, what is the term you use, Mr. Boone, ‘user-friendly’, to our citizens.&uot;

Spruill told County Manager Wayne Jenkins there was a consensus to proceed with having open subjects on the board agendas in the future.