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The League View appears weekly on Sundays in the Hendersonville Times-News.

JANUARY 2010

1/3/10

Resolutions for the New Year always include committing to do things that should improve our lives if carried out for the entire year. This year make a resolution to attend public meetings. Learning about the way local government operates can be life changing. It should inform and educate a citizen about the methods local, elected officials use to study and resolve local issues. It gives the citizen observer the opportunity to influence, by one’s presence, the tempo and quality of the discussion. Elected officials work for each of us. It is our responsibility as citizens to be interested in the discussion and the outcome of policy debate. Attending public meetings and listening to the discussion is a citizen’s responsibility. Offering public comment is a citizen’s privilege.


1/10/10

Observing local governments in action takes time and commitment on the part of every citizen. Local government board meetings are held at various times of the day. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners holds two regular monthly meetings, one in the evening and one in the morning during the month. Other meetings and workshops are scheduled to accommodate both the public and the personal schedules of the elected officials. Often meetings must accommodate job responsibilities and family schedules of our elected officials as well as availability of staff and other presenters. The Board of Commissioners also makes arrangements for their public meetings to be broadcast over Channel 11 on cable at various times of the day to allow all interested citizens an opportunity to see and hear their discussions.


1/17/10

The League of Women Voters of Henderson County works with its members to have a League member attend various public meetings. The League supports the Sunshine Laws of 1979 that safeguard a citizens’ right to know, advocating for citizen attendance at public meetings, transparency in government and access to public records. The formal approach that the League uses to support our position is to operate an Observer Corps. This group is made up of our members who regularly attend particular meetings, reporting back to our observer coordinator giving our local League up to date information on local government activities. League observers wear a League button to identify themselves as a League observer. Under League policy an observer does not speak at a public meeting when identified as a League observer.


1/24/10

A League member participates as an active citizen in local government meetings. First a League member may attend a meeting as a private citizen and give public input on a community issue. In that circumstance, a League member acts as any private citizen, without reference to any League affiliation. Second, a League member may attend local government meetings as a member of the League Observer Corps. In that role, a League member wears a League button for identification and does not make public comment at the meetings. Finally, a League member, usually an officer or committee chair may speak as a representative of the League in an advocacy role on behalf of a League position. That statement is prepared in advanced and approved by the local League Board.


1/31/10

In addition to recruiting League members to attend several county board and committee meetings, the League Observer Corps recruits members to attend meetings of the local municipalities. Within the local municipalities League Observers try to attend the monthly council meeting and at least the municipal planning board meeting. There are several other bodies who meet under the Sunshine Laws and League observers are being recruited to attend the meetings of such groups as the Henderson County Board of Education and the Pardee Hospital board. Observing a public body in action takes a commitment on the part of each citizen. Resolving this new year to attend one public meeting a month will add to a citizen’s knowledge. Interested in the League Observer Corps? Join us today.




 

 



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P. O. Box 2238, Hendersonville, NC 28793