We’ll need caffeine at early meetings

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 11, 2013

Members of the county commission got a little cross-ways with each other Thursday night in a vote to determine when they’ll hold meetings.

When the group took office in November, they voted to change to “after-hours” meetings on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, and to hold workshop meetings on the preceding Tuesdays.

It was a noble gesture designed to make government more accessible to the public, and a minimum four-hours of meetings a month.

But the commission soon learned what most city council members already know: Rarely is anybody coming to your meeting.

For many years, the Andalusia City Council has met on Tuesday nights at 6. Their meeting is broadcast on the local cable access channel, and the group holds a workshop meeting 30 minutes or an hour before, depending upon the number of items on the agenda.

Jim Boswell makes most of the meetings. I personally have covered all but a handful in the past seven years, and recall only one that we didn’t cover (a previous administration failed to give notice of the called meeting).

But with the rare exception of a business owner seeking an ABC permit, or a funding request, Jim and I are the only people there outside of the administration and a few employees.

And so it has been with the county’s evening experiment. Aside from the meetings devoted to getting Braswell Road back on the list to be paved for the county, evening meetings have drawn little more participation from the public, and less than usual from county officials.

Because let’s face it. Most of governing is not that interesting. Thursday night’s 30-minute discussion of Mack vs. Kenworth trucks was not entertaining enough to pull John Q. Citizen away from a Babe Ruth game or his favorite TV show or supper.

Our news staff here at The Star-News sits through many hours of meetings a month, sometimes to produce only a three-inch brief on what happened. But our policy is to cover public meetings. We believe it is our job to be the eyes and ears of our citizens, who really only want the highlights.

Perhaps we should be pleased that in approximately six months, county government has only been controversial enough to draw a crowd on two issues: halting the paving of a road and proposing the closure of a bridge.

In any event, the meetings will, for at least the foreseeable future, be 8 a.m. events. Our staff members just hope the commissioners serve coffee.