Mr. Mayor, Put Away Your Toolbox

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The topic of public comment during meetings of the Payson Town Council has been heating up coffee shops all over the Rim country of late, as the councilmembers decide exactly when the public has the right to speak their minds and when they don't.

Until now, Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public were allowed a few minutes at the beginning of the bi-weekly meetings to talk about whatever issue was on their minds.

Last month, Payson Mayor Ray Schum proposed pushing that public comment session to the end of the council meeting, arguing that the council must conduct its business first.

The mayor has been chastised for this proposal by folks who charge that it's his way of regulating the public's access to town hall. However, a good many well-respected residents argue that the public has lost nothing; that the council must remain seated until the end of the meeting, so the public will be heard.

While we agree that Freedom of Speech has not taken a fatal hit by the mayor's proposal, we also agree that there seems to be something afoot.

When the meetings are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., the John Q. Publics have a reasonable idea of when they'll get an opportunity to bring up issues that are not on the council's agenda.

By making them wait until the end of the meeting, chances are, Mr. and Mrs. Public will grow weary of council grandstanding and political shenanigans, and will leave the meeting without satisfaction.

There's an old saying: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Mr. Mayor, the public comment portion of the council meetings ain't broke ... so we advise that you put your toolbox away.

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