MILTON — Milton Mayor Wesley Meiss wants to bring tighter order to government meetings following recent heated sessions such as the April 11 council and May 1 executive committee meetings, where council members walked out.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Meiss addressed three areas: audience members speaking without recognition, council members interrupting each other and council members adding agenda items without notice.
Meiss asked audience members to only speak once they’ve approached the podium and stated their name and address for the record. He also asked that they fill out speaker’s forms.
“In recent meetings, we’ve seen audience members blurt out from both sides of the room (and) say things out of turn … We want these meetings run smoothly as possible.”
And what happens if the crowd doesn’t comply?
“If you, as an audience member, speak out of line, I will give warning,” he said. “I understand (things) can get heated. If I can’t control you with a warning, I may ask an officer on duty to escort you from the room. We must maintain order. If you want to speak, you’re more than welcome to speak.”
Meiss’ instruction to the council was similar. He wants council members to ask him for permission to address the council, make motions and respond to comments.
“One thing I’d like to avoid seeing is council going back and forth. I think it will help things run more smooth.”
Meiss also admonished council members for bringing up new topics at the ends of meetings.
“In my time with the city council back to 2012, this has happened numerous times. A meeting is coming to a close and somebody offers a motion or topic not on the agenda and it’s a surprise. It’s not fair to the audience, council or staff.”
Monday’s meeting mostly proceeded as Meiss asked. On a few occasions, council members responded to each other without addressing the mayor first and he lightly tapped his gavel once, asking Councilwoman Peggi Smith to wait until Councilwoman Pat Lunsford finished her comment before responding.
Whether future meetings proceed in this order remains to be seen.