Speaker Slips a Hot Issue for Ramona's Planning Group

Do you think the planning group should have a neutral comment slip?

Amidst new evacuation routes and candidate forums, the Ramona Community Planning Group (RCPG) has a controversial topic on its hands: neutral speaker slips.

At September's monthly group meeting, Ramona resident and RCPG candidate Jim Cooper voiced his concern over the fact that there are just two choices for public speakers at the RCPG meetings: "for" and "against" a certain topic. He asked the group to allow for a third comment slip that was neutral, as some residents may not be for or against any certain item.

At last week's meeting on Oct. 4, group member Torry Brean, who is also running as an incumbent for the group, brought up the speaker slip issue during concerns of the members.

"I've seen concerned members come and they don't necessarily want to choose 'for' or 'against,'" Brean said during the meeting.

The group member suggested that a third speaker slip be made that's neutral to "make our lives easier."

RCPG Secretary Kristi Mansolf volunteered to print a neutral speaker slip, but group member Dennis Sprong said he thinks the speaker slips that are currently available serve an important purpose.

"You should have enough information to be for or against [an issue]," Sprong said. "Whether it impacts you or not, you should have an opinion."

Member Matt Deskovick agreed with Sprong.

"We're here to vote for or against projects. I want to hear the opinions of the community," Deskovick said. "If they're not man or woman enough to state if they're for or against something, I don't want to hear it."

Chair Jim Piva leaned toward agreeing with Brean, commenting that neutral slips might make for more community conversation.

"I don't have a problem with people venting," Piva said.

Member Richard Tomlinson said 'for,' "against" or "neutral," it didn't really matter; each speaker can talk during their allotted time on whatever they want.

"Does it really matter? You have three minutes," Tomlinson said. "You're going to talk."

Brean reiterated the importance of having a third, "neutral," speaker slip to encourage more voices.

"People have to have the option," he said. "The more reasonable people are sometimes those who aren't for or against [an issue]. I don't see what it hurts."

Ultimately, the group voted for neutral speaker slips to be made, 10-3, with Deskovick, Sprong and Kevin Wallace all voting against the item. Planning members Chris Anderson and Chad Anderson were absent.

So tell us, do you think neutral speaker slips are a good thing? Or do you think that those who want to speak up during planning group meetings should have a specific opinion on a topic?

Dawn October 08, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Sometimes community members may not have formed a position "for"or "against" an issue. They should be able to approach the planning group if they have questions or if they have information that might be valuable to the RCPG in making decisions.
Whisky Foxtrot October 09, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Perhaps a persons opinion may be FOR part of a proposal and AGAINST another part of the same proposal. Does that make one for or against it? If they're not asking for votes, but honest discussion, don't pigeon hole them before they've even gotten a chance to speak.
greg Chick October 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Yes, open discussion on issues need not be polarized. Congress is polarized and dysfunctional. A third option should be an improvement. Greg Chick.
Kathy October 10, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Neutral speakers slips may allow members of the public to ask questions and have a short exchange with the board leading to a more cohesive community able to work together.
Joe Cahak October 10, 2012 at 02:45 AM
With some prior [pub;lic notice about the meetings (Brown Act still observed at RCPG) everyone has a chance to at least know what the meeting is about and most always has an opinion. By having an opine, which can surely change when more informed, it at least facilitates the meeting by not wasting as much time letting peiople vent. If you don't attend many meetings in Ramona, then you have no idea how much time used to get wasted on venting and talking off issue. No I hold my point that it facilitates a more efficient meeting and decision making. As a planning group member you are more likely to listen to public not wasting your time with frivolous time wasting spin up. By the way non-polarized also implies indecisive and leads to open ended discussion. Public meetings are as much about making good decisions, but making meeting such that people participate in a meaningful way. I've seen to many of the open discussion becomming verbal; slug fests and no decisions reached, except unilateral ones. The curent RCPG in my opinion has struck a fair balance.


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