No clapping in Mr. Ganley’s class

It’s been a good month for public comment in Clark County.

First, there was the marathon Clark County commissioners meeting on May 7, where a lengthy public hearing and outrage over the hiring of state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, pushed the meeting past midnight.

A week later, it was a two-fer Tuesday. A packed house again greeted the commissioners in the morning, before the C-Tran Board of Directors met a crowd of its own at the Vancouver Community Library.

Dozens of citizens delivered hours of testimony at each meeting. But the two venues had a slightly different feel.

The county meetings were a bit more, shall we say, lively. Applause and booing started even before the first actual comment. County Commissioner David Madore, himself the object of many people’s anger, encouraged the outward expressiveness, though Commissioner Steve Stuart did use his chair’s gavel to rein in the unruly audience at times.

The C-Tran board meeting took a decidedly different tone. That’s because board Chair Bill Ganley, a Battle Ground City Council member, was having none of it. He laid down the ground rules from the start: No clapping. No booing. Any attempt at applause was quickly silenced.

Ganley is, after all, a high school teacher. Perhaps running a crowded board meeting isn’t all that different from managing a classroom full of teenagers. Does the library have a time-out room?

People at the C-Tran meeting mostly respected those rules during about two and a half hours of public comment. One of the only outbursts came in the form of laughter for Vancouver resident Judy Tiffany, who delivered this one-liner in describing why criminals don’t ride light rail:

“They like to get away fast,” she said.

Eric Florip

Eric Florip

I'm the environment/transportation reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. Contact me at or 360-735-4541.

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