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Time to learn to play nice

March 13, 2012
The Leader Herald

Robert Fulghum wrote a book titled "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten." "Play fair," "say you're sorry when you hurt somebody," "share everything," "put things back where you found them" and "clean up your own mess" were among the lessons.

We wonder if members of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors paid attention in kindergarten. If they did, they wouldn't have adopted a "decorum" policy for behaving properly during board meetings.

The recently approved measure calls for the cooperation of each supervisor in "preserving order and decorum" in public meetings. "No member shall delay or interrupt the proceedings of the board or disturb any member while speaking," the measure says. "Supervisors shall be allowed to state their positions in an atmosphere free of slander, profanity or intimidation."

The sponsor of the measure, Amsterdam 2nd Ward Supervisor Jeff Stark, said, "It's the same supervisors over and over again. When they don't get their way, they whine. All I want them to do is to act like ladies and gentlemen in the supervisors' chambers."

We understand Stark's frustration, but municipal boards shouldn't have to adopt policies on how to act like a gentleman or lady during a meeting. For one thing, the definitions of "order and decorum" are too subjective. For another, the leader of each board, whether a chairman or mayor or someone else, already has the authority to use the gavel when someone's acting out of line.

Montgomery County has a lot of serious issues to deal with, including budgets, taxes, consolidation efforts and programs. For lessons in manners, county supervisors should spend another day in kindergarten.

 
 

 

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