My wife and I made a decision over two years ago to get more involved in our Rockdale County government. We began to regularly attend Board of Commissioners and Board of Elections meetings. After two years of attendance, we particularly find the meetings of the BOC to often be the most frustrating to attend. This frustration for regular citizens who attend is, in our opinion, due largely to the unsatisfactory format of the BOC meetings.
Under the current format, Rockdale citizens are only allowed to make three minutes of comments at the beginning of the meetings. Prior to the change by Chairman Richard Oden, citizens could make their comments at the end of the work session meetings and at the beginning of the voting session meetings. In any case, it appears to us that citizens, no matter what their political beliefs or concerns, go away largely frustrated with the process. Feedback to the commenter is mostly nonexistent. We have even heard citizens say, "Are you listening to me?" at the podium, when it appeared that the commissioners' attentions were elsewhere.
By contrast, Chairman Cary Bond of the Board of Elections has initiated a better system that allows citizens to make comments throughout the Board of Elections meetings, when recognized by the chair. Thus far, citizens have kept their comments short, respectful, and to the point and, in our view, these public comments have already greatly contributed to the work of the BOE.
Now, we know that government meetings cannot be allowed to devolve into chaos, but we believe that our citizens who take the time to actually attend these meetings are better than that. Plus, a skillful chairperson can manage the process. Citizens would leave the meetings feeling like they contributed and that they were heard. That is mostly not the case now at the BOC. After all, the BOC members were elected by us and in a sense, we are their employers. Give us a better system to be heard! Let the citizens of Rockdale County help the commissioners to make better decisions by giving their input in a more timely manner and let the citizens feel better about the processing of their issues by the BOC. In our opinion, we deserve better from our government.
-- Jim and Diana Roppo