A little respect

A reminder to the City Council to treat public speakers equally

Every time the Chico City Council met in 2015, the CN&R was there. By covering those meetings to the (often) bitter end, we have a pretty good feel for how the elected officials who make up the panel interact with the public.

And we can’t help noticing a pattern: When the floor is open for public comment, the council pays speakers varying levels of attention and respect. When the dais is addressed by, say, Thomas Kelem, the executive director of Stonewall Alliance, or George Gold, president of Atheists of Butte County, certain council members can be seen playing with tablet computers, leaning back in their chairs or whispering to one another—i.e., clearly not listening.

It would be childish if those council members were making a show of their disinterest due to personal beliefs. But whatever the case, it needs to stop.

With a new year comes a fresh start. In 2016, we encourage the council to remember that they were elected to represent Chico as a whole. As such, each and every community member who has the courage to address the panel directly—and often waits all night to do so—deserves equal treatment. In fact, the people council members disagree with most are the ones to whom they should pay the most attention.

We’re not asking for a lot here. Just sitting and listening politely. As elected officials, members of the council owe their constituents that.