I have to express a pet peeve of mine.

As most of you know, I attend several meetings throughout the communities and report the happenings back to the communities. Most of the time, I enjoy the process. However, there is a very unpleasant aspect to it, and I am hoping this will reach the people who need to read it.

I'm talking about the mean-spirited heckling that happens during these public meetings. Peanut gallery comments, if you will.

Now, I am in no way implying that people shouldn't have an opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and if you want to voice it -- I say great! But please, do it in a respectful manner. Take your five-minute turn at the podium. Make your statements. Ask your questions. Don't sit in your seat and make unnecessary commentary while others are trying to hear the business that is being conducted.

Some of the rude comments I have heard made during meetings have truly shocked me, and I am not easily surprised.

Comments about a Council member's age, about their looks, about anything personal, not just about their politics. Comments about family members of those on the dais are personal attacks and have no place on the floor during a meeting. If you want to share such an opinion, discuss it with friends, but please, do it outside of the meeting. There are others who want or need to hear what is being discussed by officials.

Concerns and questions regarding what is going on in your municipality are one thing -- again, I say get up and make your voice heard respectfully during the permitted time -- but not a running commentary during the meeting. It is flat-out disrespectful.

Also, consider the noise factor. If a person has to leave or take a call, please leave the meeting completely -- don't hang out near the door. The doors are still open, so we can all hear your conversation. It is very distracting to the rest of the audience who wants to hear what is going on.

These are just a few examples of my observations. Some might say "ignore it." Let me assure you, it is not all that easy. In some cases it is virtually impossible.

Please, be respectful of others, and don't forget these meetings are recorded, so your comments may be heard by many more people than you intended.

Briana Barker: 330-541-9432