Ignorance, Stupidity and Grandstanding

   Written by on December 14, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Way back when I was a student at SVCC one of the professors, Tucker Keiser, told a student who didn’t want to take a class because he knew nothing about the subject, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t let ignorance keep me from getting an education.”

He went on to say, ignorance is lack of knowledge and is curable. Stupidity is lack of ability or making poor decisions in spite of the facts and is not curable.

Every time there is a new member on the Board of Supervisors I am reminded of Tucker.

Many people are convinced (as I once was when I was ignorant on the topic) that the Board of Supervisors meeting times were selected to prevent citizen involvement. In my ignorance I thought it made sense. After all, it seems to make common sense that most people are working during the day.

However, once I learned the reasons for the time choice and not being particularly stupid, I changed my opinion. In addition, I realized people are busy all day AND evening. They work, cook supper, help children with homework, give them baths and put them to bed. If you have small children you are unlikely to attend a board meeting.  Most of us have something we want to do more than attend a board meeting.

Almost every time a new member is elected to the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors they make a motion to change the time of the meetings to the evening. These people usually mean well but are acting in ignorance.

Then several members of the board, who actually know the very valid reasons for afternoon, are afraid someone will accuse them of trying to exclude the public and jump on the band wagon, make a little grandstanding speech and vote to change the meeting time. This is stupid.

In the past 20 years this has happened many times. Then after a year when everyone understands the reasons and attendance has not improved the meeting time is returned to the afternoon.

The reasons for the afternoon meetings are logical. Numerous people attend from other counties, and from local and state agencies.   They are being paid to attend as is the staff of the Administrator’s office.  Do we want to pay staff overtime to attend a meeting?

Often during a meeting a question will arise which requires staff input. They are available without having to be paid to sit through a meeting. They are doing their jobs while on call if needed.

The only reason for an evening meeting is to supposedly increase citizen participation. If these new members would do some homework before taking a stand they would find that the time has been changed many times and it did nothing to increase citizen turnout.  Afternoon or evening- citizens do not attend unless they are angry and then they attend at either time.

I have made numerous people this offer. We both agree to attend all meetings for a year. Each pays the other $100.00 for each meeting actually attended. No one has accepted my offer.

If they had I would be way ahead.  There have been only three people in the past five years who have attended meetings regularly and they have missed a few.

As a point of fact, in the past the board has usually scheduled evening meetings for some public hearings.

At some of these I have been the only citizen in attendance.

Afternoon meetings save money, are more convenient for those who will actually attend and benefit the county. To make a change AGAIN to attract some imaginary citizens is acting in ignorance.

In fact, the only person who benefits from evening meetings is me.  The Messenger does not go to press until Wednesday afternoon. The other newspapers that attend go to press Tuesday evening.  Evening meetings would put them a week behind.

But this isn’t about me. It is about logic, common sense and historical fact.

Afternoon meetings do not prevent the public from attending. Apathy does.

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