Last Thursday, the Hall County Board of Commissioners convened. There was a large crowd there that night to voice opposition to a rezoning proposal. Twenty minutes was given to each side to speak.
At the end of the developer’s 20 minutes, Chairman Richard Mecum offered them another five minutes if they needed. Then, those in opposition began to speak. After 20 minutes, a gentleman in the back stood up wanting to speak, and Chairman Mecum told him that time was up and he would have to sit down.
This is wrong. There should be no time limits when addressing the commission. Both sides should have ample time to say everything they want. I know a saying that goes, “Train to standard, not to time.” The commission wants to set time standards on the meetings when the residents of Hall County wish to address them on the record in public. That is what the commissioners are getting paid for.
Commissioner Mecum cited as one of the reasons for his vote that night the U.S. Constitution. He should be mindful of that document in the future. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
It says nothing about a time limit on petitioning the government about those grievances.