Paint Rock Mayor Brenda Fisk said the town council meeting guidelines were never supposed to see the light of day, certainly not “Sunlight,” as occurred. The guidelines that were not supposed to be meeting guidelines revealed another problem relevant to informed leadership, or a lack of informed leadership.
The “meeting guidelines” contain important procedures as to meeting decorum and process, items 1 thru 9 and 11 should be followed. What transpired in Tuesday’s meeting is a lesson in why meeting procedures in a town or city council meeting are extremely important.
There are citizens that may not agree with political leadership. Sometimes, if allowed, normally respectful citizens will attempt to disrupt the meeting if there are hostile intentions. That was precisely what happened in Tuesdays Paint Rock Town Council Meeting.
A discernable agenda was heard for the first 27 minutes; however, there was nothing in writing for the public, nor was the required Meeting Notice posted in a conspicuous place, such as the Town Hall door entrance.
After Mayor Fisk’s statement on the meeting guidelines that were not supposed to be released, in regards to open meetings, mayhem and intentional subversion occurred.
The meeting should have lasted 35 – 40 minutes with organized discussion. The meeting was allowed to go into mayhem for an additional 45 minutes due to a lack of structure and leadership. A written agenda and specific guidelines codified as to the procedures of the Council Meeting and enforced by the Mayor or Council President, including Roberts Rules of Order were apparently not important.
Three citizens of the town were very effective at “goading” Mayor Fisk, which resulted in the Mayor rising rapidly from her chair, after waging her fingers at an unruly participant, at which point the goading citizen told the Mayor, paraphrased - Don’t be waging those little fingers at me, that is disrespectful. It became apparent that the subversion was intentional. Thus, a reason for rules which must be followed during the course of government meetings.
I have attended government meetings for over 15 years, this one was amongst the worse of the lot, however mildly entertaining, in a perverse form and fashion.
It is obvious training, as to the decorum and conduct of government meetings, is sorely needed for the mayor and town council. It is highly recommended that a peace officer be present during the town meeting to insure that the meeting is not intentionally disrupted, or in the heat of an argument, a fight occurs. The old say’n holds weight, where there is smoke there is fire, at Paint Rock the heat is up and the smoke is bellowing. If not corrected immediately, a fire is certain to burst forth.
Effective and constructive leadership, adhering to a written meeting agenda and the maintenance of order within the meeting must be demonstrated if this town is to survive.
The Alabama League of Municipalities could provide guidelines and advice. A visit to the Jackson County Commission or the city of Scottsboro would probably prove fruitful for providing guidance and assistance for Paint Rock political officials.