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Brentwood Library Board Adopts a Speaker Policy

They haven't had one until now because visitors have been so rare. Councilwoman Maureen Saunders spoke at last week's emergency meeting, and the board president said it went too long.

The Brentwood Library Board now has a policy for visitors to their meetings who would like to speak to the board.

At last week’s emergency meeting to discuss the tax rate, which Alderwoman Maureen Saunders attended, there was no board policy for speakers.

Board President Sheila Lenkman said visitors’ comments were at the end of the agenda, but Saunders said she wanted to speak before the vote.

“Out of courtesy to her, as an alderperson, we decided to let her speak, and that’s when things kind of got crazy,” Lenkman said. “We should have enforced that to five minutes, which is a reasonable time, and unfortunately it went over an hour.”

At the board meeting on Monday, discussing a policy for speakers was on the agenda.

Library Director Vicki Woods came to the meeting with the results of researching speaker policies around the state, and said some boards have had a similar problems, but theirs was different: an alderperson was trying to find information.

Sherman Lee, a past board vice president was at the regular meeting on Monday, and said no one was at fault in the emergency meeting. He called it “the speed of business.”

“Perhaps what happened at the ways and means and at the emergency board meeting was kind of a perfect storm,” he said. “There’s nothing in place, you have no framework, and this came right to the heart of it, and everyone was tense. The good thing is, everyone was passionate about trying to do the right thing for the city.”

Lenkman said the board meetings have never had visitors before, which is why no policy for speakers was in place.

The board talked about speakers signing up a week in advance, having different rules for invited and uninvited speakers, and time limits.

Board Secretary Brian Rothery said they should set a time limit only if they're prepared to enforce it, otherwise it’s like having no rule at all.

He also said it's good to keep guidelines general.

“Have a set policy that tells them when they can speak and how much, give the president the authority to give them the hook if they’re out of line, and away you go,” Rothery said.

At the meeting, the board decided to postpone drafting its own policy, and for the time being adopted the Richmond Heights Library guidelines.

Lenkman said they liked the Richmond Heights policy because “it is simple, easy to read and understand, and if you post it people might actually read it.”

This is the part of that policy having to do with speakers:

"Any member of the public who wishes to speak to the Board is asked to register upon arrival, indicate group affiliation (if speaking on behalf of anyone other than self), and to limit comments and general information to five minutes."

It also states they welcome documentation to support a comment, and that the library director maintains an open door policy.

Also in Patch:

  • Brentwood Library Tax Could Have Doubled: Wouldn't Have Been Nickel Increase
  • DeVaughan Appointed to Brentwood Library Board
  • Brentwood Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Library Tax Increase
  • Brentwood Voters to Consider Library Tax Levy Increase
Roy Hinkley September 24, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Mr. Completely, I don't know the details of how Brentwood Library and City works. I just know that most of the accusations in the Patch comments are trying to use the Library in yet another attempt to smear the city, and the biggest misunderstanding is that the Library is a department of the City. That's a basic fact people skip over too quickly. And that's what the Ashcroft quote clarifies. As for how Brentwood Library and City works? What I do know is that the Library provides very good services and is a benefit to the entire Brentwood community. If the City did something fishy to the Library, I trust that auditors would find and report it. If the Library was missing funds, they would report it. If I thought I smelled smoke I would look for a fire, but I've found life is less stressful if I assume not everyone is out to con everyone all the time. But you obviously feel like you have many unanswered questions. Why do you expect crazy, anonymous, emotion-over-logic Patch commenters to have the answers? Brentwood is a small town, not like New York City or something. Just go directly to the sources, like City Hall, Library Director Vicki Woods and/or the Library Board. If I understood the original article correctly, the Library Board has a very reasonable Visitors Policy...
Sheila September 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
The City of Brentwood's website is incorrect. By the law of the state of Missouri, the Mayor of Brentwood does appoint the library board, but he appoints all nine of us. How does he do this? Simple... we volunteer to do it. We step forward and indicate our willingness to actually do something for the community in which we live in. Then, by the dictates of that state law, he makes a proclamation at the next Board of Alderman meeting that appoints us to the board. That is the end of it... he does not attend our meetings, sleep with us or influence us in any way. We do not get paid anything for our service. Who are we? We are your neighbors. We are moms and dads, some working and some retired, male and female. We count among us a lawyer, a CPA, several businesspeople, a teacher,and a real estate agent. There is no city Alderman actually on our Board. One is appointed to us as a liaison, as a courtesy, to keep the lines of communication open between the city and the library. The liaison can show up at library meetings or not... nothing is set in writing regarding that. Currently, Lee Wynn is our appointed liaison. Sheila Lenkman Brentwood Library Board President
Sheila September 26, 2012 at 02:29 PM
The Library Board is responsible for hiring a Library director. Two years ago I was part of a four member sub committee which conducted a series of interviews that took two weeks and about 12 hours of our time. We did this, without pay, to ensure that our library had the best Director we could find. We stand behind Vicki Woods. If you have a question, or problem with the Brentwood Library, it's Board, or it's Director, please attend our monthly meetings and voice your opinion. This Patch article and it's accompanying comments are not the whole story by any means. Thank you Sheila Lenkman Brentwood Library Board President
Sheila September 26, 2012 at 06:43 PM
By the law of the state of Missouri, the Mayor of Brentwood does appoint the library board, all nine of us. How does he do this? Simple... we volunteer to do it. We step forward and indicate our willingness to actually do something for the community in which we live in. Then, by the dictates of that state law, he makes a proclamation at the next Board of Alderman meeting that appoints us to the board. That is the end of it... he does not attend our meetings or influence us in any way. We do not get paid anything for our service. Who are we? We are your neighbors. We are moms and dads, some working and some retired, male and female. We count among us a lawyer, a CPA, several businesspeople, a teacher,and a real estate agent. There is no city Alderman actually on our Board. One is appointed to us as a liaison, as a courtesy, to keep the lines of communication open between the city and the library. The liaison can show up at library meetings or not... nothing is set in writing regarding that. Currently, Lee Wynn is our appointed liaison. Sheila Lenkman Brentwood Library Board President"
Mr. Completely September 26, 2012 at 07:02 PM
That loud echo that you have heard throughout this thread is alderman Wynn, the liaison, expressing his opinion.

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