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Thread: Civility in the board room / council chambers

  1. #1
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Civility in the board room / council chambers

    There was an article published recently which indicated that the level of civility between elected officials decreases if the meeting is televised. I can't seem to find it anywhere. Anyone seem to remember the source?
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    According to the citatation in this blog article, the study you are referring to is not yet online.

    See the linky for the full article reference.
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    we just started televising and so far the opposite as happened - alot of the mean comments have subsided

    and alot of people watch - wth is with that?
    Kim Wexler: Either you fit the jacket... or the jacket fits you.

  4. #4
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian
    we just started televising and so far the opposite as happened - alot of the mean comments have subsided

    and alot of people watch - wth is with that?
    The Town where I work has been televising Council, Planning Board, ZBA, Conservation Commission, and hoardes of other meetings for years. Lots of people DO watch. I'm always amazed at how many prople come in to the office and say that they've seen me on TV.

    At home, I admit to watching some of the meetings on TV as well. Drives my wife crazy.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  5. #5
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    In my experience, I've seen two things happen. For Planning Commission meetings, I think the opposite is true. I think they make better findings and discuss things in a more civil way.

    However, Council meetings become far more political, with more posturing, due to the fact that it's free campaigning really. I haven't noticed any differences in snarkiness either way.

  6. #6
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NHPlanner
    The Town where I work has been televising Council, Planning Board, ZBA, Conservation Commission, and hoardes of other meetings for years. Lots of people DO watch. I'm always amazed at how many prople come in to the office and say that they've seen me on TV.

    At home, I admit to watching some of the meetings on TV as well. Drives my wife crazy.
    We've had people that will watch and see something that makes them mad. They then will actually drive to City Hall and sign up for public comment. Not often, but it does happen on occassion.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  7. #7

    Government on TV, cure for insomnia?????

    I have to admit, I watch local TVW for the City Council and County Commmish meetings..always great fun to watch. I have to agree with NH though, drives the wife and kids crazy.

    Depending on the issue, most people are civil about being in front of the board, but there's been a couple of times I've been taken to task for items on the agenda. You just let it roll off your back

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB
    According to the citatation in this blog article, the study you are referring to is not yet online.

    See the linky for the full article reference.
    I read this article as saying not that the act of televising makes the participants ruder, but that ruder participants are founfd by viewers to be both less trustworthy and more entertaining.

    We televise both planning commission and city council. Rudeness seems to be a direct reflection of the particular speaker's personality. We had a city council member who was cast-iron b1tch, and when she spoke no one was safe. We actually had a department head quit because he couldn't stand the twice-monthly browbeatings he took for being imaginative and creative.

    A lot depends on how well the chair controls the meeting. I have instructed (with the city manager's blessing) the planning staff to walk out of a meeting if they are receiving an ad hominem attack. It's OK to attack the idea, but not the person. And attacking an idea can be done civilly. The planning commission chair has agreed to put a meeting into recess if a member of the public is verbally abusive of staff.

  9. #9
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    First time poster. Somewhat long time lurker. Recently registered.

    I am a council member who has an interest in learning more about planning. That's probably the worst kind, right?

    Anyway, we usually have 2-3 of the same people at every meeting plus the press, plus the people there as applicants or opponents for something. Our public comment period is at the end of the meeting when it's usually just the press and the gadfly left.

    The gadfly speaks/berates us at pretty much every meeting. One would think he gets his satisfaction from simply yelling at us, but he won't speak if the press is not there. He seems to want a quote in the paper as much as anything.

    I would welcome TV coverage as I am positive the handfull of remaiing people in town who still take him seriously will see him for the jerk he is. I'm always happy when there are "newbies" still around at the end of the meeting who get exposed to his behavior.

    People are a lot nicer to the appointed boards like the Planning board. We're "politicians" even though we're pretty much just volunteers doing this part time, but for some reason it is OK to be uncivil to politicians.

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