In a democracy, citizens vote in their political leaders to vote on their behalf. The leaders study issues, take input from their constituents and make decisions based on what they feel is in the best interest of the people they represent.
Sometimes, the decisions are not met with glee from the public. The way the leaders deal with that is sometimes just as important as the original decisions themselves.
Take the Bethany Beach Town Council, for instance.
In an effort to put more order in council meetings, the officials put in a policy to limit public comment to the extent of only allowing conversation from those recognized by council — a move that makes sense if you’ve ever sat in a formal meeting and people attempt to talk over one another.
The problem? The council faced backlash from the public, because some perceived the new policy to be an attempt to censor the public and not take input on matters that screamed for public discourse.
So, in an effort to alleviate bad feelings, members of the council considered in a recent public workshop to allowing comment from the public in meetings on matters that were scheduled to receive a vote. So, in a nutshell, Bethany Beach Town Council will continue to limit public input to an extent, but still allow residents to make their feelings known in a public platform.
This should ease everybody’s concerns, and allow more order in the town council meetings.
This was a good move every step of the way. Though we understand some of the public backlash regarding restrictions of public input, we certainly do not believe the council acted in any manner whatsoever to censor the public, or to restrict any individual’s voice.
The consession arrived by the council to allow public input on matters up for a vote allows a continuation of free speech and thought, and shows a flexibility not always seen by officials on any level to address public concern.
And, for the residents who made a fuss about the new policy, good for them. It was their airing of grievances that brought this to the forefront and commanded a change in institutional policy.
Bravo, all around.