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Some Commissioners Try To 'Focus' Fellow Board Members

Mecklenburg County commission meetings can last a long time, often four or five hours. And some commissioners think their fellow board members are needlessly prolonging them. They're trying to stop that by making it harder to put items on the agenda. If you're a commissioner and you want to bring something up at a board meeting, all you need to do is let the clerk know seven days ahead of time. Commissioner Harold Cogdell says that's way too easy. "Commissioners have utilized this opportunity as a chance to talk about matters that are very much unrelated to the business of county government or about any particular board policy or about any particular function of county government," says Cogdell. He wants an item to have the backing of three commissioners before it can get a place on the agenda. He also wants agenda items to be clearly defined so that the board has a general understanding of what's to be discussed. In some cases, time limits would also apply. Cogdell says he won't say who motivated his proposal. But these comments from Commissioner Vilma Leake upset Commissioner Jim Pendergraph at a board meeting earlier this month. At 11:30 that night Leake brought up her agenda item entitled "District Two Update." "I'm not going to prolong it, because it's late and I know it's time to go, but on Sunday afternoon in Lincoln Heights community we're going to be cutting a ribbon," Leake began. She went on to thank several people and ended by scolding some commissioners for their attendance at committee meetings. This did not sit well with Pendergraph. "I think it should be on the agenda, instead of 'District Two Update', 'A Small Part of District Two Update and my Friends and Church Members Update,'" said Pendergraph. "What if all nine of us put updates for our particular districts or at-large on the agenda, how long would we be here tonight?" concluded Pendergraph. Commissioners will vote on Cogdell's proposal at tonight's board meeting. He has two other commissioners signing on to the agenda item, just like his proposal calls for.