The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance
Transportation Advisory Board August 24
Format of public meetings discussed
To consider adopting GAB's Rules and RegulationsMarc Knapp
It was not a momentous meeting. Most of the discussion related to the upcoming public meetings and their format. The next TAB meeting holds promise of having more interest with the possible adoption of some of the Greenbelt Advisory Board (GAB) Rules and Regulation which are up for discussion.
Firstly, I have to note that I no longer sit on the TAB. I was appointed by Councilmember Douan but with Collen Condon now taking his seat, I have stepped down in anticipation of the new Council member appointing another citizen to serve on the Board. However it is my intention to continue attending meetings and reporting on Charlestonwatch.
The Transportation consultant, the LPA Group spoke on the Comprehensive Transport Plan, though essentially confined itself to the approach to public involvement. Tentatively, public meetings were proposed as follows
Tuesday - September 27, North Charleston.
Tuesday - October 4, Mt Pleasant.
Thursday - October 6, Awendaw.
Tuesday - October 11, Charleston.
Thursday -October 12, Ravenel.
The meetings are tentative, scheduled to begin at 4 pm and extend to 8pm.
The consultant showed a conceptual plan of the meeting sites. It showed display areas and maps. It had an area for public comments, general program information and information of the Comprehensive Transportation Plan, and the Bond projects.
No provision for a presentation by the consultant or others was made. This was quickly picked up be a number of members who said that some presentations were imperative. This need seemed to be viewed necessary by all of the TAB members. Whether there would be one or more presentations during each public hearing, was not discussed. Other comments included the need to draw comments that were general as well as those relating to specific projects. The meetings were also seen as an opportunity to educate the citizens of the role of the TAB and to seek their views as to the role it should play in future.
There was also discussion about the actual meetings themselves. No issue was raised about the dates but one member suggested that the hearing set for Charleston should be set in West Ashley where there were massive traffic congestion problems. It was suggested that the Peninsula was fully developed and that there was not much interest as to what the Transportation Sales Tax proceeds could be do for this area - an opinion that was disputed by one member of the audience.
The Consultant is to consider the comments and come back with a final plan.
Board should eliminate proxies
We look forward to the discussion at the next meeting of the TAB when it will review the Rules and Procedures of the GAB. Much of the 3-page document is taken up with relatively simple items such as meeting schedules, voting rules, minutes, etc. One item that we hope will be adopted by the TAB is that relating to proxies. At the TAB's first meeting, it ruled that it would accept proxies in relation to meetings and voting. Only one member voted against proxies - yours truly. But members at that time were "green" and feeling their way and I am not sure they truly understood what they were voting for and the implications. The GAB does not allow proxies and we believe this is the right policy.
We think that the use of proxies by a number of members of the TAB has diminished its stature and weakened its efficacy. The worst offender has been Board member Hernan Pena, the representative of the City of Charleston. Mr. Pena has missed the majority of meetings. The attendance of Board member Hipp has been less that stellar as well. He has missed near half the meetings and has been very late in arriving for some of the others.
It would seem to me that the objectives of the TAB are very important for the County. To miss an occasional meeting is understandable. But to miss a series is not. If this is the likely future pattern of attendance, then offending members should resign and the nominating County Council member or entity be asked to appoint another. Just how well could the TAB function if every member adopted the attitude of Board member Pena? It would be a joke and the whole Board's standing could be jeopardized. There is also the issue of the contribution that proxy members make to the discusion by the Board. Generally the proxies that have attended have made little contribution. As well, the Board member at the next meeting is largely ignorant as to what was discussed at the previous meeting.
If members don't take their role seriously, they should not sit on the board. Board member Pena may argue that his job as head of Transportation at the City of Charleston makes considerable demands on his time and limits his ability to attend. This is his call. But if the City's business is seemingly always more important than that of the County, we still think he should step down. We also think that the Mayor should consider another appointment for in a sense, allowing Board member Pena to continue missing meetings is endorsing the slight to the TAB.