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Mehlville board could learn from Crestwood aldermen

"Call the Tune" By Mike Anthony

Mehlville Board of Education members could take a lesson from Crestwood aldermen when it comes to listening to their constituents.

While Mehlville school board members, particularly Mike Heins, want to stifle public comment under the guise of supposedly encouraging it, Crestwood aldermen readily welcome comments from their citizens with open ears.

As Mehlville residents may recall, Mr. Heins had the audacity to proclaim at a recent meeting that the open period for public comments at each school board meeting is not the board's preferred method of communication with the public.

"This (the public comment period) is probably the worst way to communicate with the board,'' Mr. Heins said.

On the other hand, Crestwood residents should be glad they live in a city where their elected officials are willing to listen to them and embrace the period for public comment.

Unlike Mehlville, Crestwood offers its citizens two periods for public comment during each board meeting — not to mention public hearings that are scheduled on various issues that come before aldermen. Furthermore, Crestwood aldermen always are looking for ways to improve those periods of public comment.

Such was the case last week when Acting Mayor Richard Breeding said he would provide increased opportunities for residents to address aldermen. Though each meeting has had a period for public comment near the beginning and the end, the first public comment period was limited to people who wanted to address the board about items not on the agenda for that particular meeting.

In response to a suggestion by Ward 2 Alderman Gary Vincent, Mr. Breeding said he would allow people to address city officials on non-agenda items during the first public comment period. The acting mayor also said he would be willing to allow people to speak on other items aldermen are considering in a format similar to a public hearing.

Though we haven't always seen eye to eye with Mr. Vincent, we applaud his suggestion to enhance the period for public comment. For the past few years, Crestwood officials have been very progressive about being accountable to the public and promoting government in the sunshine.

This is just another example — one from which Mehlville board members could learn if they really want to be responsive to their constituents.

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