In a break with tradition, SLO County supervisors ditch weekly meetings

The Board of Supervisors has decided to scale back its meetings in 2018. It will meet twice a month, rather than four times.
The Board of Supervisors has decided to scale back its meetings in 2018. It will meet twice a month, rather than four times. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Sorry, local news junkies; it’s time to wean yourselves off the weekly Board of Supervisors meetings.

With little fanfare and almost no public discussion, the board voted unanimously in November to hold fewer public meetings this year. Instead of meeting four times a month — as it has for as long as anyone can remember — the board will meet twice a month, generally on the first and third Tuesdays. (There are exceptions to that; click here for the 2018 Board of Supervisors calendar.)

Additional meetings will be scheduled as needed.

So why the change?

We’re told the move was all about efficiency. According to board Chairman John Peschong, there were several meetings in 2017 that lasted only an hour or two, so it makes sense to hold longer, less frequent meetings.

Also, weekly meetings are tough on staff members, given the amount of preparation required for complicated agenda items.

We agree that meeting for the sake of meeting is a big time waster. And given the strained relations between liberal and conservative factions on the board, limiting the frequency of interactions may not be a bad idea.

On the downside, it may be harder for the public to track when meetings are held, especially if the board winds up adding a third meeting from time to time.

And what about public comment? On any given Tuesday, speakers could show up at the Board of Supervisors and, in true town hall fashion, wax eloquent for up to three minutes on anything from allegations of political corruption to the benefits of solar clothes dryers — AKA clothes lines. Now that’s down to twice (or maybe thrice) a month.

Call us sentimental, but we’re going to miss the (nearly) weekly meetings; they provided an excellent opportunity to see the people’s business done in a public forum, with frequency and predictability.

Still, we’re keeping an open mind. If the new schedule really does improve efficiency, we’ll put in a standing order to have a tasteful bouquet delivered to the board chambers every first and third Tuesday.

If it doesn’t work out, there’s always the happy medium: Three meetings a month.

Bouquets and brickbats appear occasionally in The Tribune. If there’s something (or someone) you would like to honor with a bouquet or chastise with a brickbat, email your idea to letters@thetribunenews.com.

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