As we see from this meeting in Davis reported on by the Bee yesterday– scroll down, (and a follow up report today http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/13469216p-14310132c.html ) it is often difficult to get public involvement on a contentious issue if public officials, and the consultants they hire, create a format too strict to allow free public discourse.
This has been the complaint offered about the current Parkway Planning Update process where public input is so strictly limited it has driven away members of the public wanting to become involved.
While a ‘strict format’ may serve the stated needs of the public administrators and the meeting facilitators they hire, it is not very good for the public, who the meeting’s purpose are ultimately meant to serve.
Democracy is often a little messy, but it works.
Spraying critics seize meeting
Davis officials leave after being shouted down by protesters.
By Hudson Sangree and Deb Kollars — Bee Staff WritersPublished 2:15 am PDT Wednesday, August 24, 2005
A meeting intended to calm fears in Davis about possible pesticide spraying to combat West Nile virus erupted in chaos Tuesday, as opponents shouted objections to the meeting’s strict format, drove off government leaders and then took over the session.
The ground rules of the meeting called for written questions from audience members to be read by Davis Mayor Ruth Asmundson and Yolo County Supervisor Helen Thomson to a panel of officials and handpicked experts.
About 30 minutes into the meeting, however, several opponents began loudly interrupting with questions and objections.
“This is a democratic meeting,” said resident David Bayer. “People have a right to stand up and articulate their concerns.”
Asmundson abruptly halted the session and directed the panel to leave the City Hall dais. For the rest of the story; http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/13465294p-14306324c.html