Comm. Hodge Deserves Round of Applause Citizen Advises, While Encouraging Other Officials to Listen

County Administration Building – March 16, 2010 – When the County Commissioners started working on the public’s business this evening, one item interested most attending citizens.  The planning commission had recommended changes in proposed zoning districts.  During the public hearing land owners, conservationists, lawyers, business interests, and everyday citizens reacted to the proposal.  The room, which was about two-thirds full at 7:00 p.m. started emptying out after the comprehensive public hearing on these recommended changes.

Some county advocacy groups had billed the evening as an opportunity “to urge the county to cut property taxes” and the chance to offer general remarks was up next.  A member of the Cecil County Tea-party movement stood up to say that Commissioner Hodge deserved a round of applause for showing up at some of the group’s meetings and listening to their concerns which were all about “fiscal responsibility and tax restraint.”  He continued: “Please come to our meetings. . . Please listen to us, we’re reaching out to you.”  Adding that the movement often made general remarks about county fiscal matters the citizen said he was going to make only one cost control suggestion this evening.  Replace the school superintendent was the proposal.  President Lockhart then advised that no one else was there to speak so the board moved on to a range of technical action items.  By 8:30 the crowd was quickly thinning out on the Mason-Dixon Line since the meeting was over.  A couple with a tax protest sign stood at the exterior door cheerfully passing out flyers for an upcoming April 17th rally as people headed home.

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4 responses to “Comm. Hodge Deserves Round of Applause Citizen Advises, While Encouraging Other Officials to Listen

  1. Just wondering why if you sat through the long meeting you didn’t give some more information on what the majority of the meeting was about– the comprehensive plan– and how many people were there to speak on that, what issues were most on their agenda, etc.
    As for the tea party people, how many of them were speaking on that issue? The pictures in the Whig looked like they had about 4 people with signs outside. If one of them had nice things to say about Hodge, that is different from their leaders who have singled him out for attack.

  2. Louise:

    1. We were blogging in near real time, covering the meeting live with a smartphone and laptop. That sort of on-the-spot reporting and the associated technolgoy isn’t conducive for a detailed examination of a complex, important subject. It’s something more like headline reporting of a couple of paragraphs, as radio would have done in the old days when we actually had a broadcast journalist routinely covering meetings. It’s hard from the commissioners meeting room to have all the background material to write a piece and to do a reasonably good job of getting all it down in something like a coherent fashion.
    2. Nonetheless, having heard the comments we agree that this is something that deserves a fully detailed piece, and is something we’re working on. Sure would like to have more help from more new media, since there’s so much news out there and a piece requiring some digging can take time. This one did not. It’s just what we heard.
    3. BTW, for this area, the media was on full alert for this meeting. There were five media representatives attending Wed evening, which sort of reminded us of the old days. Five people covering a board of county commissioners meetings! We were just missing our broadcast journalist, but bloggers can fill that gap for headline reporting.
    3. The tea-party thing surprised us. Promotion of the protest had received a great deal of attention and promotion on the web, in blogs and through social networking media in the weeks leading up to the meeting. Thus we thought there would be a large attendance. We weren’t the only ones, either. Only one audience member addressed the commissioners, and that gentleman thanked Commissioner Hodge and suggested they fire the Supt. of Schools! As for protestors with signs, we got there about 20-minutes before the meeting started and there were no signs outside as we came in, but we noticed the Whig had some photos, so perhaps the four or so signs in that shot came out for the photo-journalist. As we departed one couple with a sign was at the door passing out some material.
    4. It was hard to estimated the turnout specific to the tea-party. As we reported the room was two-thirds full when the meeting started, but that number thinned greatly once the planning matter was over. We’re just roughly estimating, but it probalby wasn’t more than a dozen. One group of about six came in, clealry identified as part of the movement, and there was a small cluster of folks in the back of the room that could have been there in support, but they were seated early on.

  3. Thanks for the follow up information. It was hard to tell from just that picture in the paper what the tea turnout really was. So it sounds like the tea people put a lot of stuff online but don’t turn out a real crowd of citizens to sit through a government meeting.

  4. Louise, that probably summarizes it at least in this instance. It’s a rare instance for one to see two photo journalist snaping images of a county meeting and three reporters there to covering it too.

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