We get nervous when public officials enter the legal quagmire of talking about limits on the public talking to them. We also are uneasy when elected leaders try to outline proper personal conduct or manners.
So we urge Belleville's leaders to tread lightly when they consider whether they need an ordinance, rules, guidelines or expectations of the public when their constituents make the effort to participate in the process of governing.
Belleville's been a one-party town for a long time. We've seen some good results in public policy since the minority voices have interacted with the majority. Debate and diverse perspectives should be encouraged, not limited. Growing pains are to be expected.
What we'd like to see is everyone acting like adults and realizing that you lose credibility when you act or speak irresponsibly or without doing your homework. You close ears and minds when you make personal attacks.
We think the mayor and his gavel are capable of reminding folks when they get out of line. We think the police officers present at City Council meetings can handle those who go over the edge.
Maybe instead of limits, the council could open up more channels of communication. Tweet or live chat with your elected city leaders? Open forums on the months with five Mondays?
Any of those forums still require citizen civility. We think simply continuing the tradition of expecting adults to act like adults will be better for the city than any sort of censorship, no matter how pretty we dress up a set of rules.