Highlands vs. Atlantic Highlands

It’s fascinating to see the similarities and differences between the meetings of the governing bodies of the two close knit towns of

Highlands and Atlantic Highlands. Both have a fairly large percentage of residents who turn out for every meeting. Both have a fair number of residents who frequently speak out at many meetings. The difference here is that in Atlantic Highlands, council members do not make it appear they think the residents are attacking them or asking questions they do not have the right to ask. In Atlantic Highlands, the administrator makes certain every regulation is followed stringently….proper motions are made, seconded, and roll calls taken for every phase of a proposed ordinance. In Highlands, the mayor asks for motions in some cases, opens and closes public hearings without any vote, and is not following Roberts Rules of Order but must be following some ordinance the borough must have adopted some time in the past, though I don’t know when, that sets up a different procedure. And it must be proper, because the attorney never says anything about it and ordinances, lots of them, become the law of the land. In Atlantic Highlands, there is no time limit on how long an attendee can speak or ask questions; in Highlands, the procedure is three minutes tops, though there are times the speaker is shut down before the three minutes has elapsed, or the questioner’s time is included in the time when a councilmember might be answering. In Atlantic Highlands, if a council member is asked a question, he or she receives a polite, courteous response, unlike the last Highlands meeting when the councilman simply stared ahead and did not respond in any manner. In Atlantic Highlands, councilmembers even seem to enjoy doing the business of the town and never mind how much time it takes to do it; in Highlands, where they recently passed an ordinance to hire someone to assist the mayor and administrator, council members plead for more time, because they’re new on the job. Both towns have at least one similarity at public meetings. There is at least one councilmember in each town whose spouse also likes to speak out and be heard at public meetings. Of course she’s got every right to do so, and I applaud her for speaking her mind. But wouldn’t you think she’d discuss these things with her husband before a meeting. Or doesn’t she think his voice and opinion are strong enough to be heard without her adding to the discussion?

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