Commission Should Be Open to Public

Like many public officials, Belmont County commissioners sometimes grow frustrated with people who attend their meetings. To their credit, commissioners have something of an open format. Show up at a meeting with a question or comment, and they will listen and answer as best they can.

But commissioners usually have much to do during their meetings. Sometimes that proves difficult because so much time is taken up interacting with the public.

Commissioners Mark Thomas and Matt Coffland said last week they would like to change the format of meetings so, in Coffland’s words, they can operate “more efficiently.”

Their concern and frustration is understandable. As they pointed out, visitors too often ask questions and make comments about issues that have been addressed previously, sometimes repeatedly.

But commissioners’ existing policy is a good one – far more so than in some jurisdictions, where officials place severe limits on public access to them.

Doing that may seem appealing at first – but insulating oneself from constituents is never a good idea in the long run.