Making county commissioner meetings accessible to the public
Note: This is an open letter to the Monroe County Commissioners. I sent this by e-mail on 12/3/2011.
It is time to move your meetings to a time where it is more accessible for all Monroe County residents.
This is especially important now, as you prepare to vote on the comprehensive plan for development next month. Whether one supports the plan or opposes it, there's no question it will have a significant impact on what people are allowed to do with their property and what future development will look like as it serves as a guide to code that will be written and passed later.
For this reason, the meeting needs to be as accessible as possible. Even if you do not change your regular meeting time, you should seriously consider changing the time of your January meeting to take place in the evening where more people can make it and express their views directly to you during public comment.
As I noted yesterday when I spoke at your meeting, the 9:00 am start time is a barrier for most Monroe County residents who work during the day. Yes, it is possible for people to take time off for a specific meeting, but it is impossible for most working people to attend every meeting.
There is no need for this to be the case. Bloomington City Council meetings are at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Monroe County Council meetings are at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. The city and county planning commissions meet at 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. respectively. There is no reason that the county commissioners cannot also meet in the evenings instead of during the work day.
I do not have to remind you that next year is an election year and two of you are up for re-election. You can show the voters that you deserve to be re-elected by making your meetings more accessible to the people who will decide whether or not you continue to serve in 2013.