The Muscogee County School Board had been receiving complaints about its policies regarding citizens addressing the board during meetings and work sessions.
The policies conflicted on the time limits, variously stated as 3, 5 and 10 minutes. So the board asked the administration earlier this year to research the issue and make recommendations.
Superintendent David Lewis presented the suggested revisions during Monday's work session, which include making the time limit 5 minutes for all public comments.
Board members John Thomas of District 2, Naomi Buckner of District 4 and Frank Myers of District 8 expressed concerns. They also questioned the rationale for these proposed restrictions:
"Comments must be confined to the agenda item."
"Individuals and/or groups who addressed the Board previously may be denied the opportunity to address the Board again on the same topic within a six-month period."
The proposal does call for the agenda to be posted three days before the work session instead of the current two.
But citizens must make their request to address the board seven days in advance. So if they would be limited to speaking about only agenda items, this proposal essentially would prohibit citizens from addressing the board at the work sessions at all.
"We're making it more difficult for people, the members of the public, the people that pay for public education, to have their voice heard in this meeting or in this forum," Thomas said.
"That's not the intention," Lewis said.
"But that's what's happening," Thomas said.
"Well, no, we're actually giving them an additional day to sign up and see what the topics are," Lewis said.
Myers noted these policy proposals come one month after Muscogee County voters, after a divisive campaign, approved by a slim margin (54-46 percent) renewing the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax to help fund the school district's capital projects.
"These fine people have given us another $192 million to work with," Myers said. "I wonder why we didn't have this policy change a month ago. Or do I really wonder? Of course not. I think the timing of this is both deceitful and hypocritical."
Board chairman Rob Varner of District 5 objected to that characterization.
"Some of the comments that were made, words like 'muzzling' and 'trying to restrict' and that this is some type of conspiracy, apparently, that we're breaking this after the vote, is ludicrous on its face," Varner said. "I just disregard every bit of that because it's so wrong."
Kia Chambers, the nine-member board's lone county-wide representative and the policy committee's chairwoman, noted policy changes must have two readings, so the board couldn't vote on these proposals at next Monday's meeting anyway.
Regardless, based on the expressed objections, she asked Lewis to revise the proposed revisions and try again. So we might be Chattering about this again.
During a discussion Tuesday of possible changes in the city's Alcoholic Beverage Ordinance, Councilor Mimi Woodson, who is famously protective of the reputation of Victory Drive, said the city must be cautious about changing rules that might allow more undesirable businesses to reopen there.
"The whole reason for the (alcoholic beverage restrictions) is to get rid of some of those lingerie shops," Woodson said. "I went to one I was invited to and I saw a 17-year-old girl that I know that was an A student stripping."
Umm, what? Did we hear that right?
Here in Chatterland, we think hiring is a really good thing. But, if you're an employer, how you go about it can cause some grief if you're not careful.
That's because a nationwide survey of human resource people and hiring managers by job site, CareerBuilder, found that one in five such people who help vet and hire prospects in the workplace have asked what is deemed by federal law to be illegal questions.
So you don't have to guess what those questions are - and find yourself and your company in hot water - here they are:
What is your religious affiliation?
Are you pregnant?
What is your political affiliation?
What is your race, color or ethnicity?
How old are you?
Are you disabled?
Are you married?
Do you have children or plan to?
Are you in debt?
Do you social drink or smoke?