Greenville Council Squelching Public Input

December 1, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveBy Jan Williams
Citizen Reporter

Greenville County Council has a genuine opportunity to improve government transparency for its residents. Currently, residents are allowed three minutes to address “current agenda items” at the beginning of each council meeting.

However, if the agenda item has had a previous “public hearing” comments are not allowed.

That hearing could have occurred more than a year ago. Even if the text amendment to an ordinance had no input in the hearing, residents are still not allowed to comment.

And even if the hearing only had input from a single individual, appearing in favor, and they were on the planning committee, it still means no resident will be allowed to comment.

The only way to learn if an agenda item is in this category is by reviewing the list before the meeting starts.

Many residents come to a meeting to speak on an item only to find out it is on the list and they’re precluded from doing so. The agenda transcript doesn’t include information on items that are exempt from comment so residents can contact council members before the reading and vote to make their feelings known on matters.

Jan Williams is a former Navy supply corps officer and a retired automotive fabrics development engineer from Milliken and Co. who lives in Greenville.