Media's Duty Is To Read Fine Print

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We didn't mean to offend Payson Mayor Ray Schum when we reported last week that the proposed 22-page document setting forth the "Rules of Procedure" for town council meetings gives the mayor broad powers related to public comments.

Schum opened the discussion of that document at last Thursday's council meeting by disagreeing with our interpretation of the new procedures the council is considering adopting to govern future meetings.

"There was an article in the paper earlier this week that this was going to give me all sorts of new powers that somehow I didn't know that I had," the mayor said. "I believe that was presented totally wrong in the Roundup."

Specifically, the document, which was adapted from one already in place in a Valley community, grants the mayor power to:

Determine whether public comment will be allowed on a particular agenda item.

"Limit the number of speakers heard on non-agenda topics ... to allow the meeting to proceed and end in a timely manner."

Limit the number of people allowed to address a single topic "if it appears that several speakers desire to speak...."

The mayor made the point that these new procedures are primarily designed to guide future councils. That's really our point too.

We know Ray Schum. While we disagree with him from time to time, we wouldn't have just named him Man of the Year if we didn't think he is a positive force in our community.

But because we don't know who the next mayor will be, or the one after that, it is the responsibility of the media including KMOG, who, with wide-eyed innocence, also looked askance at our article to carefully examine these new rules with an eye to what they actually say, and not whether we think the current mayor will abuse them.

The mayor himself put it so much better than we ever could that we'll repeat his words: "... this is going to give me all sorts of new powers that somehow I didn't know that I had."

Our point exactly.

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