The TV news cameras rolled. The newspaper writers hovered over their laptops. On Tuesday morning, two weeks after being escorted kicking and screaming from the Cobb County Commission chambers, the opposition to the Braves stadium finally was to have its day to address the commissioners. Three dissenters showed up.
Granted, the stadium deal is now a fait accompli. The audience for this weekday morning meeting consisted of maybe a dozen civilians. And that being the case, the commenters redirected their venom toward the commission’s refusal to face dissenters rather than the issue itself.
“I was not in custody for long,” joked Gary Pelphry, one of the citizens removed from the May 27 meeting during which all public speaking spots had been claimed by pro-stadium supporters who showed up hours in advance to ensure a bloc on the agenda.
Pelphry then pointed at commission chairman Tim Lee: “I was denied the right to speak and a public meeting because of you!”
To his credit, a noticeably more patient Lee handled the proceedings with less of an iron fist. When a calmer naysayer, Rich Pellegrino, gently suggested that the commission change its rules to allow and encourage more people to address the board at its meetings, Lee said he and the board would “take a look at it.”
At the end of the meeting, District Four commissioner Lisa Cupid voiced her concerns that more people should have been allowed to speak. Cupid said that she and a couple fellow commissioners had even discussed the idea before the May 27 meeting. “I can’t fault anyone but myself for failing to bring that motion forward,” she said. But Cupid also defended chairman Lee, for having the vocal minority removed after interrupting the beginning of the proceedings. “I’m all for public comment,” she said. “But not for disorder.”