People disagree. When it comes to government policy, people not only disagree, but on occasion even get hot under the collar. Why? Governments have so much power and tend to waste so much money. Our money. Yours.
That’s why, in public meetings, we should expect citizens to fly off the handle every now and then.
And that’s why those who run public meetings must retain a measure not merely of civility, but lenience. When some citizens disagree, that disagreement will sometimes be . . . disagreeable. But understandable.
I’m preaching the obvious here, but to town officials in Elmhurst, Illinois, I’m preaching a message they don’t want to hear. When citizen Darlene Heslop rolled her eyes and sighed out loud as they moved to hire a state lobbyist, the officials running the meeting objected. They threw her out, saying she was disorderly.
And then they told the city attorney to look into the guidelines for public meetings — you know, everything from state statutes to Robert’s Rules (I kid you not) — to find a definition of “disorderly conduct” that would allow them to keep Heslop out of their hair. Her eyes! Her sighs!
Heslop is all for settling on a definition. Perhaps she knows state law, which defines disorderly conduct as acts of “such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another, or to provoke a breach of the peace.” Her eye-rolling and sighing in no way qualifies — and should be tolerated . . . maybe even as free speech.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.