When the public blows its own horn

Those of us who covered city councils and school committees as young journalists can understand what might’ve prompted the St. Paul Board of Education to stop allowing cable access TV to show the “public comment” part of its meetings.

“What happens in that 30 minutes with two or zero or five people, sometimes many many more, but usually a small number, gets a huge amount of play and press, and all those other situations, nobody ever hears about,” Board Member Anne Carroll said when calling for efforts to reduce the visibility the public gets in the token time it’s given to say whatever it has to say.

Local meetings can bring out the gadflies, whose opinions have been stated so often, the government officials don’t bother cocking an ear. Sometimes they have a point; sometimes they don’t. You never know.

But at the very least, it’s great entertainment that a lot of faithful cable watchers might miss.

Take the Grand Forks Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Wednesday, which was considering rezoning a parcel of land to make way for a 70-unit apartment building.

It’s a bad idea, said Roland Riemers, a member of the public who lives a block away and has to put up with train whistles.

Check out what happened in this video from the Grand Forks Herald.

“It’s by far the oddest thing that’s happened to me in my 15 years with the city,” said City Planner Brad Gengler, whose ear was within shouting distance of Riemer’s air horn.

The commission approved the rezoning request.