To reader, education equals empowerment

Published 6:50 am Friday, June 17, 2016

Dear Editor:

Our town’s June 17 city council meeting was my first as a new resident of Bogalusa, and I was initially impressed by how things were running. Then, the meeting took a turn about three minutes after the first public participant, Ms. Theresa Keller, started speaking.

At the prior city council meeting, a proposed resolution to extend the public participation speaking time limit from three minutes to five minutes failed. Therefore, Ms. Keller knew she would not be able to finish in time and that by rule, the council would make her sit down.

I am sure there are many in this town who can come up with simple solutions to this three-minute speaking limit “debate.” Just speaking with my dad for about 15 minutes on a grocery run, we were able to put some seemingly simple solutions together.

• If there are five people who want to speak, have a five-minute speaking limit.

• If there are more than five people, go back to a three-minute speaking limit for everyone.

• If the person is worthy and not just complaining and rambling, then a motion to extend the speaking time by two more minutes can be made by any of the council members.

• Provide a list to the public of diverse volunteers who are willing to sit with anyone who wants to participate in the meeting and review with them (in confidence) on how to prepare what they want to say. And if they have a grievance, guide them in helping them research some possible solutions if they cannot think of any on his or her own.

We have to set high expectations and consistently model them for our community members. Education is at the heart of empowerment. If we educate, we empower!

Jason Arceneaux