In Sunday's recommendations for the Bryan City Council, the Editorial Board criticized the council for not broadcasting the "hear visitors" portion of council meetings.
It turns out the comments of visitors are broadcast, just not on the day of the meeting. In the past, some members of the public have used vulgar and inappropriate language in addressing the council -- language that has offended and angered some other members of the public. In order to prevent such language from being broadcast, the city works with its service provider to bleep the offending language and the "hear visitors" portion is broadcast online starting the day after the council meeting.
The rules on "hear visitors" were expanded by the Legislature, beginning Sept. 1. Until then, city councils, school boards, commissioners courts and other similar governmental bodies were not required to set aside time to hear from the public. Although the Bryan City Council has heard from visitors for many years, it did not have to do so. Under the new law -- House Bill 2840 -- every such governing body must do so.
Further, any resident may speak to the council before a council vote on any agenda items. All the resident has to do is raise his or her hand and the council must allow that person to speak. No longer will speakers be relegated to a set time to hear visitors.
That is good for the public, but it will demand responsibility when addressing the council. Speakers should be calm and courteous. There is no call to abuse council members or city staff. Vulgar language is not necessary, nor is it appreciated by anyone. And don't be one of those people who feel they have to speak on every agenda item at every meeting. That's why we elect council members.
Input from the public should be welcome, but there is no reason to be abusive about it.