Here are a couple of questions that members of the Bladenboro Town Council must have been asking themselves on Monday: What if we held a town board meeting and nobody came? — and — if a town board meeting is held and nobody attends, did it really happen?
Bladenboro’s legislators gathered for their regular monthly meeting and severely outnumbered those in the audience by 10-4 — and those facing the board included two members of the media, Police Chief Chris Hunt and Maintenance Supervisor Andy Coleman.
No residents bothered to show up.
We would think the public might be interested in whether their elected officials would pass or reject a firearms discharge policy within the town limits (interestingly enough, the very public the board chose to protect wasn’t even in attendance). We also think residents would be interested in knowing whether the town’s police officers would be trained and start using the opioid overdoes drug Naloxone, as well as be approved to start using body cameras.
Lesser items of interest can be found in W. Curt Vincent’s story on Page 1A today, but they are no less important for Bladenboro residents to know.
Yet not one person took the time to come watch what its town council was up to.
We understand Bladenboro is a small town with less than 2,000 residents. But we are surprised to see that residents there are choosing to nurture small minds by ignoring what its legislative body is doing.
That’s not to say council members are doing anything wrong and need watching. Quite the opposite. This board gets along well, discusses issues thoroughly, doesn’t waste time getting side-tracked with frivolous posturing and generally works in harmony from one end of the table to the other.
That’s a testament to the officials elected by the town — from the mayor to each and every council member.
But the public, especially the voting public, sadly left the seats in the audience conspicuously empty on Monday.
Mayor Rufus Duckworth has seen council-meeting attendance from both ends.
“I attended meetings for about 20 years (before being elected) and I can recall being the only one a few times,” he said. “So I’ve seen it from both sides. But certainly we’d like to see folks come out to understand what we do and why.”
Of course, he also said the attendance at council meetings can be determined by the agenda.
“If there isn’t anything controversial, then attendance will be lower,” Duckworth said.
Determining whether an agenda contains a controversial item can be subjective. At various government meetings throughout the area, we’ve seen potentially controversial topics fizzle quickly and we’ve seen what appeared to be the simplest issue blow up into knock-down, drag-outs.
So we think folks need to prioritize their own agendas better. Attending a town council meeting or school board meeting or county commissioners meeting can be far more important and productive than any episode of “The Big Bang Theory.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The usefulness of a meeting is in inverse proportion to the attendance.” (Lane Kirkland)