Officials shouldn’t use phones during public meetings

Published 9:03 am Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Dear Editor,

From the Danville Board of Education meeting last week, perhaps we could  agree on one thing: All phones should be turned off during public meetings.

Most of us are used to being asked to silence our phones during concerts, plays, public meetings. And most of us comply. Until last week’s Danville Board of Education meeting, it had never seemed necessary to ask elected or appointed officials to refrain from using their phones while a meeting is in progress.

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The BOE attorney attempted to justify the BOE President’s use of her phone because her daughter was ill. No, Mr. Pennington. Do not pander.

There can be no justification for the BOE President to communicate with members of the audience. If a member of the audience wants to speak, there is a format for making that known. Simply approach the podium. identify yourself, and make your request to speak. Most presiders will grant that request.

The Danville Board of Education is not the only group to have phone issues. I well remember a meeting of the Danville Boyle County Planning and Zoning Commission when a Commisioner placed his phone on the table in front of him which he is wont to do. During a discussion, his phone rang.  He almost jumped out of his seat in his attempt to silence his phone. I am pretty sure I know who sent that message, but of course I cannot be certain. One person  comes to P&Z often and always has the phone at the ready. There are others who attend public meetings regularly who always have their phone active. Granted some are taking notes.

It is indeed unfortunate to have to make this request. Surely it is not too much to ask elected and appointed officials to put their phones down while they are conducting the public’s business.

Anne V. Ferguson