Thursday, February 20, 2014

A public input session without public input

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 1:42 PM

Sometimes, no news is news.

Let me explain: Last night, the county’s Charter Review Committee held a public input session at Gates Town Hall. The committee is reviewing the set of laws that spell out how county government operates and is organized. But the only substantial thing said during the meeting came from committee vice chair Jeff Adair, who is president of the County Legislature.

“Let the record show that we had no public speakers here tonight,” Adair said, just before adjourning the meeting. (The committee’s chair, Gates town attorney John DiCaro, was absent.)

In other words, the committee members provided the public with a chance to be heard, but nobody showed up aside from some committee members, a couple of us reporters, and some County Legislature staff.

Yes, most of the changes the committee is reviewing are low-stakes. The public probably isn’t going to have a lot to say about employee title changes or fixing grammatical errors, for example. So why would an unattended public input session on those issues matter?

One unattended public input session isn’t quite as serious a problem as low voter turnout in county elections. But it’s still another very small example of public apathy toward the workings of county government. In a county with more than 438,000 voters, quite a few public sector unions, and a few very active political parties, nobody found anything to speak in favor of or against.

The next public input session will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 27, at Monroe Community Hospital, 435 East Henrietta Road. Anyone interested in speaking can sign up by calling the Legislature Clerk's Office at (585) 753-1950 or e-mailing charterreview@monroecounty.gov.

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