To the Deerfield Beach Commission:
The “Let the public speak at the beginning of the Commission meeting” experiment is not working.
The State ruling that for each item voted on in an agenda the commission must allow public input changed the way our commission meetings are run.
Formerly the public could address the commission in the beginning of a meeting if written permission was granted a week before the meeting and after each meeting was over without prior notice, and during the meeting on public items.
Now, everyone who wants to address the commission has a turn at the very beginning of the meeting, taking their 4-5 minutes to rant on any topic they choose. Rarely, if ever, are they held to the guidelines that the topic has to be about city business. Five, ten or twenty individuals, each meeting, bring up topics from the important to the ridiculous; many causing the commissioners to rebut or discuss, causing the 4 minute limit to drag on and on and the public to speak portion of the meeting to go for an hour or more. All this happens after city presentations of videos and certificates and honors. Meetings which should start at 6:45 – 7:00 frequently don’t get going until 8:30 or 9:00!
This is not fair to the audience; people who are coming before the commissioners to do business, many with representatives such as attorneys or architects who are paid by the hour, have to wait until the this long preamble is over before getting their chance to do what a commission meeting is supposed to be about. Think about the hourly cost of having your attorney sit through complaints about how commissioners behave, requests for funding, announcements about upcoming events, pothole filling, and thinly veiled campaigning. At a few hundred dollars an hour, this can get kind of pricy.
Residents who frequently attend commission meetings do so to hear city business conducted, not to hear residents venting about shoes and ships and sealing wax or cabbages and kings.
It is time to go back to having the public, who have personal topics to discuss, wait until the end of the meeting. If the public wants to speak about agenda items, they can do so during the public input portion of the item during the meeting, otherwise business should be conducted, business people will have a chance to do their business and leave. The commissioners have to stay to hear the public, but it is wrong to make those wanting a sign change or approval for a building plan to waste time and money waiting for the business meeting to begin.