Pleasureville meeting is broken, time to fix it

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

It was the strangest thing I’ve ever seen.

Since I began working in newspapers more than a decade ago, I haven’t seen a meeting as nutty, as whacky, as out-of-control as last week’s meeting of the Pleasureville City Commission.

In our story about the meeting, I compared the meeting to an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. The truly sad thing is that I’m not kidding — the only things missing from the meeting were Jerry Springer himself and his security guards. And, perhaps, someone screaming profanities at or about the “baby daddy.”

Instead, we were treated to insinuations of impropriety and unethical behavior, an accusation of one commissioner telling others how to vote, an accusation that the same commissioner paid for another commissioner to run, and the statements “you’re crazy,” and “that’s a lie.” That’s just a tiny summary. The scene was complete with folks standing up and walking toward the people they were shouting at. All in an open meeting. All on the record.

The meeting was so out of control, that Mayor Rodney Young was banging the gavel on the table in front of him, and those doing the shouting carried on, ignoring his attempts to gain control of the chaos.

I’ll confess that the format of the Pleasureville meeting has befuddled me for some time. The city does not hold its regular meeting using an agenda — nor are they required to do so unless it’s a special meeting — and is the only city I’ve covered in 11 years that doesn’t.

Residents who attend the meeting — and this is perhaps the most consistently well attended government meeting in the county — speak up and talk with the commission, and each other, while the commission attempts to conduct the city’s business.

But, until recently, it has worked for Pleasureville.  As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Once the minutes and financial report are approved, it’s a free form discussion. I can’t say that the commission ever veers off the track, because without an agenda, there is no track from which to veer.

There are folks in Pleasureville who consider the state of the city’s appearance something of an embarrassment. The horror stories of garbage, overgrown grass and marauding hoards of youth are nothing compared to the behavior on display at last week’s meeting.That was the real embarrassment, and one would expect grown men and women to act with more civility and maturity.

As the last two meetings demonstrated, the Pleasureville meeting’s broken and needs fixing.

So it’s with both hands that I applaud mayor Rodney Young for declaring that in April, the city’s meeting will be conducted on an agenda. And in order for residents or other attendees to speak during the meeting, they will have to ask to be on the agenda ahead of time.

Such a concept may not seem fair to some — particularly in a community so used to a free-form discussion — but some manner of order has to be maintained for business to get done.

Other agencies already do this, including the City of Eminence and the Henry County Fiscal Court.

It will take some adjustment for the folks who are used to speaking out of turn and conversing freely with the commission, but Young and the commission need to enforce the agenda concept. To do otherwise would be to allow chaos to reign, which is precisely what happened last week.

I also would applaud a decision to have a police officer on hand. That’s just how out of control the last meeting was.

What happened last week does absolutely no good for the residents of the city, and accomplishes absolutely nothing relating to city business.

It’s time to restore order.

Jonna can be reached at editor@hclocal.com