• 68°

Editorial: Time for serious talk about city council meeting times

Are Salisbury City Council members doing their job?

As stewards of millions in taxpayer dollars, government officials should be transparent and open about every facet of local government. Our elected leaders — city council, county commissioners and other jobs requiring the vote of the people — should subscribe to a single ideal: transparency.

No government sets a perfect example for transparency, but the easiest way to start would be holding public meetings at a reasonable hour.

Salisbury City Council members meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. County Commissioners meet on the first and third Monday. On first Mondays, commissioners meet at 3 p.m. On third Mondays, commissioners meet at 6 p.m.

Too frequently, meeting rooms sit empty when elected officials meet. Changing meeting times, however, wouldn’t increase public participation. City Council and county commissioners would still sit in a mostly empty room regardless of what hour they meet. Most local government matters simply aren’t interesting enough to draw significant public turnout.

Controversial matters nearly always draw large crowds. For county commissioners, prayer lawsuit discussions drew a standing-room-only crowd of people. The same was true when Salisbury City Council members allowed the public to debate whether downtown’s “Fame” monument should be taken down.

By changing meeting times to allow the working class to attend, public officials allow the widest potential for turnout. Maybe a sprinkling of residents would attend every meeting. During controversial matters, however, the crowd would extend out of the building.

County commissioners have a 6 p.m. meeting time, which allows for wider public participation. Whether they correctly use the 6 p.m. time is another matter.  Salisbury’s City Council, however, only meets at a singular time — 4 p.m. It’s a perfect time for students, retirees and those who work odd hours. Others need to leave work early to attend.

If there’s a desire to change meeting times, endless solutions exist. City Council members could adopt a format similar to county commissioners or draft their own idea. Whatever the solution, there’s enough public discussion about the matter to warrant a significant conversation by council members.

Regardless of political leanings, an important job of every elected official is to remain unquestionably transparent. If Salisbury City Council members can’t encourage transparency, are they really doing their job?

Comments

Local

Hundreds turn out for annual Juneteenth celebration on newest federal holiday

Local

Between local champions and an upcoming state tournament, pickleball putting Salisbury on map

Business

Business leaders hope to draw big crowd for job fair at West End Plaza

News

Officers cleared in Mooresville shooting

Business

From firefighter to photographer, Brianna Mitschele is ready to capture more moments in downtown Salisbury

News

25 years later, runners reflect on Olympic torch’s trip through Rowan

News

Commissioners to consider designating Newberry Hall House as county historic landmark

Farm & Garden

51st annual Old Southeast Threshers’ Reunion set for July 1-5

Business

Biz Roundup: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Foundation awards grants from Salisbury to Jerusalem

Lifestyle

Kristy Woodson Harvey: For Dad

News

South Salisbury Fire Department activates new weather siren

Lifestyle

Library Notes: Meet the ‘Dare Devil Dogs’ in Week 5

Faith

Q&A with Bishop Tim Smith

College

Wolfpack tops Stanford falls in College World Series opener

Lifestyle

‘Down by the Praise Pond’ shares local author’s faith in debut children’s book

Nation/World

Driver crashes into crowd at Pride parade in Florida; 1 dead

News

Search continues after 3 tubers die, 2 disappear at dam

News

Research from NC State professors is aboard space station

Education

Livingstone College celebrates federal recognition of Juneteenth

College

Wolfpack faces Stanford today in College World Series

Nation/World

Tropical weather lashes Gulf Coast with winds, rain

News

Cooper vetoes bill that would have allowed more to carry guns in churches

Nation/World

Girl attacked by bear in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

News

Two tubers remain missing after going over Dan River dam