Friday, April 2, 2010


On March 22d the Chapel Hill Town Council had a meeting. Nothing surprising with that, but this was a long meeting, a really long meeting. It went on for five and one-half hours. That’s right, it started at 7pm on Monday and ended at 12:35 am on Tuesday. That’s 335 minutes, or 20,100 seconds.

In other words, it went on for a long time! Why? Because there were lots of major things to discuss packed into the agenda, not to mention petitions and reports to the Council. There’s plenty wrong with meeting this long – any meeting over three hours is just wrong! The council members are not at their best, the staff has to still come to work in the morning, presenters have to sit through these things and waste a lot of their time, citizens tune out before the meeting is over, and worst of all, there may be some terrible decisions made by tired people.

I would encourage the Council and manager to take a hard look at their meeting agendas and work hard to keep them to three hours max, or better yet, two hours if possible. Sad to say, long meetings are real barriers --- a barrier for people who might want to serve on the council and still have a job, have a family or even want to have other activities in their lives. And it’s also a barrier to the public who wants to watch the process in real-time. We can and must do better!

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