Lyle board right to review comment policy

Published 10:48 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Nothing breeds mistrust faster than an unwillingness to listen, and for that reason alone it seldom makes sense for a local government to stifle — or to even appear to stifle — comment from residents. So we’re glad that the Lyle School Board is considering a change to its restrictive public comment policy.

This week, the board took the first steps toward adopting the same comment policy that has worked well in Austin: The board will hear comment for 25 minutes from as many as five individual speakers. For school boards, city councils and other governments, there’s a balancing act between appearing insensitive to input and being unable to complete routine business because meetings are consumed by public comment. The 25/5 policy is a good way to keep that balance — especially because Lyle’s board envisions allowing commenters to sign up for one of the five slots until shortly before the meeting. Its current policy, which has drawn much criticism, requires speakers to sign up long in advance, even before a meeting’s agenda is set. It has proven to be unworkable.

Changing course is not always easy. We’re glad the Lyle board now seems willing to do so. We hope that the new policy gets unanimous support when it comes up for an official vote.

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