At their annual retreat, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners broached the idea of changing their public comment period: televising it for the first time in years and shifting it to the end of the meeting. The board will vote on the proposed changes Jan. 20.
Currently, commissioners’ meetings have two public-comment periods, one before the formal meeting and one at the end. Neither is televised. Under the proposed changes, there would be one public-comment period at the end of the meeting and it would be televised, as the rest of the meeting is.
“We should keep it civil and we should televise it,” Vice Chair Bill Stanley said, sitting around a table with the rest of the board at the retreat. This marked a shift for Stanley, who during the primary campaign had told Xpress that the public comment blackout should only “perhaps” end. Chair David Gantt and Commissioner Holly Jones ardently supported such a change, while Commissioner K. Ray Bailey has said he would support it with clear guidelines. During the election, Commissioner Carol Peterson said she opposed such a move.
The issue has long been a sore one for activists from across the political spectrum, who have asserted that the move inhibits government transparency. At the time, the commissioners asserted they took the move to end political grandstanding.
The commissioners will vote on the change at their Jan. 20 meeting.
— David Forbes, staff writer