Seating arrangements and septic systems

I always thought elementary school teachers were the only ones who cared about seating arrangements.

This week’s Clark County Board of Health meeting proved me wrong.

Typically at board of health meetings, all the important people sit in the front of the room.

The county staffers making presentations sit at a table on one side of the room; the county commissioners sit at a table on the other side of the room.

The important people are facing each other. The spectators have a side view of the people at both tables.

At Wednesday’s meeting, however, the county commissioners were sitting at a table with their backs to the audience.

That did not sit well with the residents who came to testify during the public hearing on septic system fees.

One resident stood up, interrupted the commissioners and, rather loudly, voiced his displeasure with the commissioners.

“You’re talking to those people and not us,” he shouted, pointing to county health department staff.

Another audience member chimed in. She said the audience doesn’t feel like they’re part of the meeting since the commissioners aren’t facing them.

Then a third resident spoke up.

“It’s symbolic,” he yelled.

Commissioner Tom Mielke tried to explain the reason for the seating arrangement. The meeting was actually a work session and the public isn’t usually allowed to participate so —

At that point, Commissioner Steve Stuart interrupted Mielke to point out that the meeting wasn’t a work session, it was a public hearing designed for public participation.

“Oh, well there it is,” Mielke responded.

Stuart went on to explain to the angry audience that the commissioners had a work session about baseball scheduled to follow the board of health meeting. Rather than move the furniture around between meetings, they arranged the tables for the work session and planned to use the setup for both meetings.

“It was not meant to be symbolic,” Stuart said. “I’m very sorry, we’re very sorry, it came off that way.”

See, septic system owners are just as particular about seating arrangements as elementary school teachers.

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