Hearing Matters

As you noticed from my earlier post, I testified before the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee today at their Anne Arundel County hearing today. One of the concerns that I addressed during my testimony was the idea that the Committee scheduled their hearing at a time that was not conducive to public participation. Part of my concerns were that the Committee was deliberately trying to minimize Anne Arundel County participation due to our conservative bent and the intention to again slice and dice Anne Arundel County.

  • The hearing was originally scheduled to being at 4 PM and be held at Anne Arundel Community College. With Anne Arundel Community College closed due to Hurricane Irene, the Committee originally postponed the hearing via email at 6:10 am this morning, with more information to follow.
  • But….four hours and ten minutes later, an email was sent rescheduling the hearing for today. At a different time. At a different location. Now the hearing was at 4:30 PM in Annapolis at the Legislative Services Office Building. Even that email had an error, stating that the Bladen Street Garage was free to customers after 4 PM, when in fact it is 6 PM.
  • The sign-up to testify, on needed to sign-up before the hearing. You could also sign-up to testify at the hearing. However….the sign-ups closed at 4:20 PM, ten minutes prior to the scheduled hearing start time.

When you combine these three facts, is it any wonder that public participation was so limited? A number of individuals who sign-up to testify never arrived. Did they go to the original hearing location? Were they made aware that the time and location were moved? While I got an email both telling me that the hearing were postponed and then rescheduled, what about the people who don’t have electricity (and there are a number of them up and down the Ritchie Highway corridor in heavily Republican territory) never got any emails of to begin with?

To put it bluntly, the Governor’s Redistricting Advisory Committee’s handling of the Anne Arundel County hearing was troubled from the start, but was an absolutely boondoggle today. The idea of postponing, then rescheduling a hearing at a different time and location are completely unhelpful to inviting public participation and collaboration in the process. What good is a public hearing if it is moved to a new location and rescheduled at the last possible minute? How does that engage the public?

It doesn’t. Which, given the Republican makeup of our county, is exactly what I think the point was…..

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