Public leaders must control audiences

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Enough is enough. Two groups of elected leaders continue to act, and allow the audiences at their meetings, to act like poorly behaved children.

Meetings of the Rock Hill School Board and the Ironton City Council have become increasingly ugly in recent weeks. At Rock Hill, the hatred stems from sides being at odds over what to do with the district's superintendent position that remains locked in a legal battle.

In Ironton, the issue for months has been the budget. Neither side is willing to give in. The council says it is not in a deadlock, but it is. One side's plan is to do next to nothing while the other side continues to hammer away at the same message - a municipal fee - even after the majority of council has nixed it time after time.

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The inability to accomplish any appreciable action or compromise on the matter for the good of the children and the good of Ironton residents is bad enough, but now things are worse. The audiences at both meetings have gotten increasingly brave, offensive and rude to the point that both have recently provided disgusting spectacles of uncivil behavior.

Rock Hill audience members have been allowed to continue to shout out opinions, slanderous remarks and downright crude insults.

Ironton meetings have not hit that level yet but are getting there. Audience members frequently speak out of turn and insult council members.

A new low was achieved last week when a union member hurled a choice profanity at Councilman Richard Price. Everyone is allowed to speak their opinions when done the right way but this behavior is absolutely unacceptable and a disgrace to our citizens.

Both public entity chiefs - Rock Hill Board President Lavetta Sites and Ironton Chairman Jim Tordiff - are ultimately accountable. They are charged with maintaining order at the meetings with the help of law enforcement officers present.

Sites and Tordiff have done little to control the audiences at the meetings.

They both may be correct in their ideological views but, right now, both are failing in the duties they were elected to perform.

Unruly members of the audience should be tossed out of the meeting one by one until the meetings can be conducted with some civility. Only by maintaining order will citizens want to continue to come and express their views.

We wouldn't let our children act this way in public, so why should we allow it from our elected officials?