About Speaking Before Council

Time and again, people speaking at council meetings discredit themselves by their behavior. Too often, the people who speak before council forget that there are rules of decorum. It’s a shame, because some of the ideas brought forth are really very good.

When speaking before council, your goal is to represent your point of view as well as it possibly can be represented.  You’re there to persuade, change minds or attempt to enlighten us with new facts.  If you are there to scold, pontificate, insult, read newspaper headlines, or simply be a recurring burr in the saddle of your political opponents, you’re wasting our time.

In my opinion things would be a lot better if people would keep in mind:

  • This isn’t Washington, DC, or Lansing, MI.  The body before you orchestrates the plowing of snow, the collection of trash, the signing of police labor contracts and similar local matters.  Your comments about the national political climate are not germaine, nor are they appropriate.
  • You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts.
  • It isn’t a comedy show, and you’re no comedian.  Stick to being informative and factual and save the attempts at humor for open mike night at Ridley’s.
  • Keep your time at the podium as brief as possible without sacrificing clarity or completeness, otherwise set time limits will be imposed on us all.
  • If you are insulting to council, you’re also insulting the institution of democratically elected government.  In my opinion, you should be thrown out.
  • If you are an ideologue your input will be discounted wholesale.  Anyone who wants to listen to that can tune in AM talk radio broadcasts 24/7.

I don’t know where people got the idea that the council members work for them personally.  They don’t.  They work for Sterling Heights as a whole.  They’re up there to listen to resident’s input, certainly, but they’re entrusted to make the best decision they can using their own brains.  Nobody is a puppet.  Nobody up there should be beholden to do any group or resident’s wishes.  Your anger when they fail to heed your wishes is thus displaced.

My final point is this: like it or not, these people represent all of us.  As an unelected resident speaking before council, you represent nobody but yourself.  If you say something with which other people agree, that’s fantastic, and I am very happy for you.  If you behave like an ass, don’t be surprised when you get treated the way you deserve.


Posted on May 16, 2011, in Issues and views. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on About Speaking Before Council.

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