“Let the people speak!” County Commission changing public input format

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County Commission meetings are very long, and they rarely run on time. People sit and wait for hours to put in their two cents on an issue.

“It’s like a little child. You tell them when they can go here, when they can do this. It shouldn’t be like that.”

Charles Nelson says he comes to as many meetings as possible to keep track of what’s going on, and he waits patiently in the back to speak his mind.

A proposal by Commissioner Mark Billingsley could change that.

Billingsley wants to re-arrange the formula on when the public can speak at meetings.

“This will allow citizens who have a job or other pressing needs to come down the beginning of the meeting and be heard on any respective issue,” Billingsley said.

His proposal, which passed with a unanimous vote in committee, would give citizens a chance to talk at the beginning of the meeting, when the issue is being discussed, or at the end when debate is over.

Nelson says this isn’t enough.

“If you let the citizen talk first, then they can come back and forget what the citizen feels and for whatever way they want to vote. I think that’s not right.”

Nelson says the taxpayers should be in control and not be told when and how they can address the commission.

“It’s like watering down what you say. Go over here, we’ll let you speak and then disregard, and vote what they want.”

Billingsley’s plan will be voted on by the full commission Monday.

He also plans to sponsor a vote to push back the time County Commission meetings are held to later in the evening so more people can make it.

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