Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

Published 8:50 pm Friday, September 24, 2021

To the chaos at the Albert Lea school board meeting on Monday.

We were disappointed in many things at the most recent Albert Lea school board meeting.

Though the meeting started off civilly, it quickly went downhill during the open forum at the start of the meeting.

Under the board’s current policy, the board allows only 10 minutes of open forum time, and each person who speaks is limited to two minutes. Essentially, under this policy, only five people can speak before the board moves forward with other items on the agenda.

On Monday, 15 people signed up to speak, but because of the policy, only five were allowed to speak — in this case, the first three and last two people were selected to do so.

After those five people’s remarks, one board member motioned to allow more people the opportunity to speak. It was clear there was a portion of the audience that felt like they had been unrepresented during the forum and wanted to speak.

Some of the school board members voiced their opinions about whether they agreed or disagreed with this motion, and some in the audience started yelling out from their seats. One school board member even proceeded to voice his frustration at these individuals.

The board went into a recess and then later came back and voted 4-2 against allowing more time for the open forum.

As we look at what happened, we are disappointed again that the meeting escalated into a situation where people did not civilly and respectfully communicate with each other and that the board had to recess to calm the situation down. While it’s clear that not everyone will agree, more needs to be done on all sides to show better respect to each other.

The other concern we raise is the time limit currently in place for the open forum.

Looking at other local government bodies — namely the Albert Lea City Council and the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners — these boards allow for an unlimited number of people to speak, though there are time limits on their individual remarks.

We recognize that sometimes the open forum portions of these other boards can be long. Yes, sometimes the comments can be repetitive, and yes, the words spoken will not always be positive. But by allowing more people to speak, more are given the opportunity to share their opinions, and dialogue can increase. More civilized dialogue in most cases is positive.

We ask all who attended this recent meeting or who are considering attending the next meeting to look closely at what took place. Have recent meetings set the kind of example we would want our children to see? What can be done to change this?

To Albert Lea Homecoming king and queen.

Congratulations to the Albert Lea Homecoming Court, and, specifically, seniors Lucy Stacy and Leon Kong, who were crowned queen and king in the coronation ceremony Friday afternoon at the high school. From the sounds of it, all of the members of the Homecoming Court have been involved in numerous activities and clubs. We congratulate them for receiving the recognition of being on the Homecoming Court, and even more so for their drive’s to succeed.

To the upcoming demolition of the downtown water tower.

We were pleased to hear the city announce this week that the removal of the longstanding downtown Albert Lea water tower will begin this week.

Though the tower has been a piece of the city’s downtown skyline for decades, the tower was worsening in appearance in recent years.

Bringing the tower down will bring change to the skyline, but it is definitely needed. We look forward to seeing what the new tower will look like in its place.