Clayton citizens group protests decision to stop airing public comment

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Clayton citizens group protests decision to stop airing public comment

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More than 70 Clayton residents stand during Tuesday’s commission meeting to protect commissioners’ recent decision to stop airing the public comment portion of the meetings. TAMMY JOYNER/TJOYNER@AJC.COMClayton

A large contingent of Clayton County residents clad in black stood in silence at the county commission meeting Tuesday night to protest what they say is officials’ efforts to “blackout” public opinion at the meetings.

The five-member commission recently decided to stop televising the public comment portion of its meetings on its local access channel, CCTV 23. The decision sparked outrage within the community.

The blackout protest was organized by Jonesboro resident Jean-Pierre Bourget, a member of Organized Clayton, a citizens group. Bourget asked the residents - estimated at more than 70 residents - to stand while he addressed the commissioners during Tuesday’s commission meeting.

“If there is time to approve $400,000 concession stands, create new deputy positions for county managers or hire an economic development consultant that has zero accountability for his actions,” Bourget said “Then there is time to address concerns with public comments, burning (ban), group homes, slum lords, liquor license (fee hikes) or whatever other concern that a citizen or group of citizens express.”

The commissioners did not respond to the comments during the meeting which grew rowdy at times. Clayton isn’t the only county on the southside that has dealt with issue surrounding public comment. A year ago, Henry County considered severely curtailing it public comment but dropped the matter.

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