by Bob Geary
A friend just called. She can't devote her entire day to the Wake schools protest, but she can come for part of the day and "wants to be counted" in the fight for diverse schools in Wake County. Better to come in the morning for the march/rally? Or in the afternoon for the school board meeting?
Well, to each her own, but if forced to choose, I'd march in the morning. The school board meeting itself is gonna be 1) a zoo; 2) very hard to get into. (The Board of Education issued a statement about this Friday — I've copied it below.)
The board holds a Committee of the Whole meeting at 12:30 in a tiny conference room; almost nobody gets in there except staff and press. The regular board meeting is in a larger room, but it holds 200 tops (I think the official number is 165), and the Board of Education's Majority Five has decided several times that it will not move to a larger hall (a high school auditorium, e.g.) to accommodate the interested public. The regular board session starts at 3 p,m. A public comment period is scheduled to start at 4 p.m., with speakers limited to 2:00 each — that's two minutes, not two hours.
Here's how the public comment period works:
You sign up to speak in advance, and if you're on the list — even if you didn't get into the meeting — if you're somewhere on the grounds of 3600 Wake Forest Rd., they'll call you in. However, if the majority's past form holds, 50-60-70 people will sign up, and Chairman Margiotta will call the first 20 or so, then announce a break for dinner, then the board will come back and do something else, then break again, and the final speakers won't be called until after 7 p.m. — or later.
By then, many of those who signed up will be long gone, which is fine with the Majority, who are tired of hearing that they should be creating diverse schools, not ditching them.
The pro-diversity march starts at 10 a.m. from in front of the Raleigh Convention Center. The end point is the State Capitol, seven blocks up Fayetteville Street. Organizers are hoping for a crowd in the thousands. If you want to be counted, that's the place to be.
On the other hand, if you want to be counted on the anti-diversity side, one of the Wake Republican clubs is calling for folks to come and pack the Board room for the 3 p.m. meeting. Pro-diversity folks who want to stop that from happening (and who want to attend the rally also) will have to hustle out to 3600 Wake Forest starting at about 12 noon — bring water; bring a book; it's going to be a long day's night.
Here's what came out from the Board of Education Friday: (see below the fold)
From the School Board:
July 16, 2010 - In order to comply with fire codes, the following procedures will be used for distributing seating vouchers, handling speaker sign up, and accommodating overflow seating for the Board of Education meeting on July 20.
The following provisions will be used at the Wake County Board of Education meeting on July 20, 2010.
The board will meet in the Committee of the Whole in the board conference room at 12:30 p.m. Seating in the board conference room for the Committee of the Whole is very limited. Additional seating with an audio/video feed will be available in the board room.
Seating vouchers for the board meeting will be available in the lobby beginning at 12:30.
The board meeting will begin at 3 p.m. in the board room. Overflow seating with an audio/video feed will be available in two conference rooms on the fourth floor should the board room reach capacity. Citizens in the overflow rooms will have priority for seating in the board room when it becomes available.
If the overflow rooms reach capacity, citizens wishing to view the board meeting will line up in front of the building. Those citizens will be seated in an overflow room when a seat becomes available. Fire regulations require clear corridors for the safety of employees and visitors.
Sign up sheets for the public comment portion of the meeting will be available at the Customer Service counter on the first floor near the lobby. Sign ups for public comment are available from 12:30 — 3:45 p.m. Citizens signed up for public comment will be called shortly before their turn to speak. All citizens will be afforded the opportunity to sign up for public comment, regardless of seating availability in the building.