Let citizens have their say

Published 6:07 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

On Sept. 9, when I spoke to the Isle of Wight County School Board about violating its own public comment policies during the Aug. 12 meeting, it happened again! This time by not allowing me to speak a second time after all others had spoken, which in my opinion is provided by policy.  During the Aug. 12 public comment section, the board clerk stated, “Madame Chair, the maximum time of 30 minutes has finished, but we still have 18 people on the sheet to speak.” Chairperson Jackie Carr then read from “her” personal computer: “Our policy, it has been like this not just now. It has been like this. The policy states a maximum of 30 minutes will be designated for public comment, and in order to extend the time a motion will need to be made and passed.”  This statement by Carr is not found in any policy, but rather is found in an exhibit attached to a policy. Did Carr do this to suppress citizens’ time? The board, after two votes, voted one minute per speaker. What a PR disaster. Laura Fletcher, a speaker whose time was curtailed to one minute, said: “As our elected officials, we do pay our taxes that’s paying your salary and time. For the school board to limit our time and take a vote in front of all of us is disgusting. And every single one of you should be held accountable. And you should be gone! It is disgusting.” The audience’s attending applause attested to Fletcher’s powerful words.In my opinion, Carr and the school board on Aug. 12 willfully/knowingly violated their own policies to suppress citizens’ comments. Why? Possibly because they work for the superintendent, not us citizens.


Herb De Groft