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What constitutes a "public meeting"?

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On 9/23/2019 at 3:23 PM, Saltface said:

... If a scout can't attend a city council or school board meeting in person, my PBS station frequently hosts debates on local issues. I've accepted reports on that before.

Interesting.

I've never been asked to sign off on a scout who watched a meeting (or debate) on TV.  In our area, the local school board and the city council record meetings and put them on their web sites.  I'm not too keen on accepting that though because I think the scout misses out on the opportunity to be there in person and to see that it really can be ordinary citizens who make their way to the podium to express opinions, ideas, complaints, etc. (and the scout could be one of those people if he cared enough about an issue to come speak out about it).  I'm not sure that kind of civics lesson is clear from watching TV...

BTW:  Communication requires the scout to listen to the issues and report on the different points of view expressed during the meeting.  Citizenship in the Community is similar, but the scout needs to pick a side and advocate for why it's the "right" decision.  

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Son #1 and his buddy visited a school board meeting. The advantage of going in person was that the president of the board took time afterword to sit and have a chat with them.

One I went to as a scout was right after a police shooting in the midst of a domestic dispute. Long meeting, but very interesting.

Being comfortable in contentious meetings comes in handy when you have to appear before a town council to complain (for the third time) about  a neighbor's customers stepping in to pick up a pack of cigarettes but leaving their car in neutral, allowing it to roll in your front yard.

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5 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

Interesting.

I've never been asked to sign off on a scout who watched a meeting (or debate) on TV.  In our area, the local school board and the city council record meetings and put them on their web sites.  I'm not too keen on accepting that though because I think the scout misses out on the opportunity to be there in person and to see that it really can be ordinary citizens who make their way to the podium to express opinions, ideas, complaints, etc. (and the scout could be one of those people if he cared enough about an issue to come speak out about it).  I'm not sure that kind of civics lesson is clear from watching TV...

 

1 hour ago, SteveMM said:

My son took Citizenship in the Community at summer camp, and ... sadly ... they "fulfilled" this requirement by showing the boys a video of a town hall meeting.  One of the prerequisites was to do the public meeting visit in advance, so before camp my son and I attended a county school board meeting with him in full Class A uniform.  A lot of the boys in the merit badge class at summer camp didn't do that pre-req, but were signed off after watching the video.  I was pretty irritated about it.  Watching a video is NOT the same as taking the time to go to the meeting and sit through all of the discussion.  Not only is it lazy to just watch the video, going to a meeting in YOUR community is much more meaningful because the discussion will be about local issues.

Yeah, obviously in person is better. But most city council and school board meetings are rubber stamp affairs in which you'll probably hear just one point of view presented (if any at all). Would you require a scout to continue attending public meetings for several weeks or months until a debate occurred?

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1 hour ago, Saltface said:

 

Yeah, obviously in person is better. But most city council and school board meetings are rubber stamp affairs in which you'll probably hear just one point of view presented (if any at all). Would you require a scout to continue attending public meetings for several weeks or months until a debate occurred?

There is no requirement to observe a "debate" and I feel safe assuming that a video of a public meeting wasn't what the MB developers were thinking. I would have been disappointed as well. In my opinion, observing a City Council meeting is one of the few highlights of the Citizenship in the Community requirements. The summer camp guide should advise that scouts would have to complete that requirement on their own time.

Barry

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1 hour ago, Saltface said:

... Yeah, obviously in person is better. But most city council and school board meetings are rubber stamp affairs in which you'll probably hear just one point of view presented (if any at all). ...

Clearly, the scout needs to transfer to a school district where board members make the paper for getting into fist fights. :ph34r:

No, I wouldn't make the scout attend until there is a debate. But, I'd say there's a bit of a problem if board members aren't at least discussing the pro-s and con-s of any motions put before them.

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23 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

There is no requirement to observe a "debate" and I feel safe assuming that a video of a public meeting wasn't what the MB developers were thinking. I would have been disappointed as well. In my opinion, observing a City Council meeting is one of the few highlights of the Citizenship in the Community requirements. The summer camp guide should advise that scouts would have to complete that requirement on their own time.

Barry

My mistake. I was talking about Communication but I see now that SteveMM was referring to Citizenship in the Community.

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While the requirements may not state "debate" at the meeting, a public meeting following Roberts Rules any discussion of a motion is considered "debate". Only during this time can any viewpoints be given. Thus the requirement to attend (not view online IMO) a meeting with differeling viewpoints presented can only occur during "debate". Yes, it is semantic. I think the focus on the "public" is missing the point of the requirement. Public means you can attend, private is closed to "the public".

 

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12 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

While the requirements may not state "debate" at the meeting, a public meeting following Roberts Rules any discussion of a motion is considered "debate". Only during this time can any viewpoints be given. Thus the requirement to attend (not view online IMO) a meeting with differeling viewpoints presented can only occur during "debate". Yes, it is semantic. I think the focus on the "public" is missing the point of the requirement. Public means you can attend, private is closed to "the public".

 

Shesh, it didn't seem this hard with the scouts. 

Barry

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1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

The summer camp guide should advise that scouts would have to complete that requirement on their own time.

Barry

It did, actually.  Attending the meeting was on the list of pre-requisites, and my son did it before camp.  However, while going through the merit badge class, the instructor just showed the video and counted that as fulfilling the requirement.  It was hard to believe, but giving Scouts shortcuts happens far too often.

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1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

Shesh, it didn't seem this hard with the scouts. 

Barry

I know. The adults make it difficult. Often trying to find "loopholes" to take away from the reqs, or ways to add to them. A high quality mB counselor understands the reqs as written and helps the scout complete them. The problem arises when unqualified folks sign up to be a mB counselor and the district does no vetting beyond YP.

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On 9/24/2019 at 9:25 PM, T2Eagle said:

I'm on my HOA board.  We pretty carefully plan the "public" meeting to avoid debate.  I would point to the Cit in the Community list and tell the scout to convince me if they want to deviate from that list for Communications.

Just an observation:  the list of examples for "public meetings" is different for Citizenship in the Community and for Communication.  Citizenship in the Community includes court proceedings whereas Communication does not (though Communication does include debates).  

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38 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Just an observation:  the list of examples for "public meetings" is different for Citizenship in the Community and for Communication.  Citizenship in the Community includes court proceedings whereas Communication does not (though Communication does include debates).  

As examples, they are to help guide not be exhaustive lists. The counselor approves the specific meeting based on the purpose of requirement. 

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18 hours ago, qwazse said:

 

No, I wouldn't make the scout attend until there is a debate. But, I'd say there's a bit of a problem if board members aren't at least discussing the pro-s and con-s of any motions put before them.

Unfortunately, a quite common practice with lots of boards is to have a "Committee of the Whole" or "Executive Committee" type meeting ahead of a contentious issue where they actually do most of the discussing and arguing between actual board members.  Or it will happen via email and phone calls.  Then at the formal meeting "for the consideration of" you'll get any comment someone wants to be officially part of the record stated, but other than that they stay fairly quiet.

What you DO get at meetings like that is a "Public Comment" section where the opposing sides of an issue have a few minutes to present their view on the issue.  Or formal For and Against presentations from NGOs and advocacy groups.

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1 minute ago, elitts said:

Unfortunately, a quite common practice with lots of boards is to have a "Committee of the Whole" or "Executive Committee" type meeting ahead of a contentious issue where they actually do most of the discussing and arguing between actual board members.  Or it will happen via email and phone calls.  Then at the formal meeting "for the consideration of" you'll get any comment someone wants to be officially part of the record stated, but other than that they stay fairly quiet.

What you DO get at meetings like that is a "Public Comment" section where the opposing sides of an issue have a few minutes to present their view on the issue.  Or formal For and Against presentations from NGOs and advocacy groups.

If the State has an "open meetings" law, this practice may be illegal. Often there are strict laws governing what may be discussed in executive session.  At the very least it is unethical. The purpose of public meetings is to discuss (debate) issues. 

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