Friday, October 30, 2009

Citizen input trumps public servants' convenience

Posted By on Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 12:38 PM

Someone – make that anyone – in local government needs to get the message that he or she is working for the  people. You know, as in “democracy”? I bring this up because of recent reactions to calls received by the county court system. Some background: My colleague Tara Servatius, during her WBT show, told listeners about violent repeat offender Matthew Morgan, whose bond was recently cut by Judge Donnie Hoover from $150K to $15K. Servatius urged listeners to call the Community Outreach office of the county court system about the matter. (FYI, on Wednesday, Morgan’s bond was raised to $75K by a superior court judge.)  The Community Access and Community Outreach Administrator for the Mecklenburg County Court System (whew!), Charles Keller, tore into Servatius on her show, telling her that “it’s obscene or out of the ordinary to take up court time with your complaints about Judge Hoover letting Matthew Morgan out. . . . asking listeners to call and complain was inappropriate. What you have done is tie up staff time listening to messages that can’t be forwarded.”

Nothing like a public servant in a snit, is there? Now, think what you want about Tara’s call for listeners to contact the court system; in fact, think what you will about the whole Judge Hoover/bond issue, as well as defendants’ rights, dealing with violent crime, and so forth. But, here’s the deal, Mr. Keller: since when is it not OK in the U.S. for pissed off citizens, from the right or the left or the middle, to let their government know how they feel? Frankly, if any government agency isn’t prepared to deal with public comments — even what it considers “excessive” public comments – then it needs to get prepared. To put it in the simplest terms, the ability of the public to have input into government goings-on is a much higher priority than the convenience of the public servants who have to listen to the input. Keller needs to be reminded of that by county administrators.

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