Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cobb School Board Problems

The following letter was published in the Friday, May 19, 2017 edition of the Marietta Daily Journal

Dear Editor:
Last year, the incumbent Chairman of the Cobb County Board of Directors, Tim Lee, was thrown out of office by a nearly two to one margin, largely because the voters demanded more transparency and inclusiveness in conducting the people's business, and were not getting it with Lee. Apparently, the Cobb County School Board is tone deaf when it comes to hearing what the voters were saying; I refer specifically to their policy on public comment during school board meetings. Of all the governmental agencies in Cobb County, the School Board is far and away the most restrictive, with the possible exception of the Marietta School Board, where a few years ago I actually had to make an appointment over the phone to speak before them, and my request had to be approved by the School Superintendent!

Which brings me to my point. What does the School Board have to fear from hearing from the folks who pay their bills? On the contrary, most school board meetings are formatted to give the public and media the impression that all is well in Shangri La, where they tout out and recognize teachers and students who have done well and made a difference. While there is some merit in providing that kind of dog and pony show, if the Board can take the time from their busy schedules to allow for that, then surely they can allow more time for citizens to express their concerns -- and heaven forbid -- even their grievances.

Moreover, the Board's policy is arbitrary and capricious, and actually serves the purpose of stifling dissent, as witnessed by Board Chairman David Chastain's restriction to two minutes for comment at a recent meeting, even when the "official" policy allows for up to five minutes. When I last rose to speak before them against the $40 million slush fund they tacked onto the SPLOST, I was limited to three minutes. I just hope the next time I go before them, and exceed my time limit, I won't get hauled off in handcuffs like opponents of the Braves Bond deal did when expressing their opposition to that boondoggle.

Sincerely yours, Lance Lamberton, Cobb Taxpayers Association

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