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Citizenship in the Community

Postby sbushnel » Tue May 29, 2007 7:00 pm

Hi, I'm new to the forums, and have a couple of questions.

Requirement 3A of Cit. in the Community says:
3) Do the following:
A) Attend a city or town council or school board meeting, or a municipal; county, or state court session.


One of the kids I'm counseling on this merit badge has asked if
he can view the city council meeting on our local cable channel and then
discuss with me -- the meetings are during the day, but its televised
at night when he could watch it without missing school. I'm
torn about whether this should be ok or not.

Also, the meetings tend to last for hours (literally, from 1:00 - 5:00 at least). The requirement doesn't say the boys have to attend the entire
meeting, so I'm inclined to count a smaller amount of quality time
spent. I don't think I could attend the entire meeting and discuss
it coherently with a counselor.

Have any of you counselors allowed a taped broadcast to be used
to satisfy this requirement?

Sandra
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Postby WVBeaver05 » Tue May 29, 2007 7:26 pm

"Attend" seems pretty clear to me. Of course, I have been "accused" of being quite literal in my interpretation of things.

However, in business today, there are meetings being held by telephone conference and video conference - sometimes 1 way (such as watching a replay would be). Still I haven't heard anyone say that they "attended" a meeting held this way.

I would still interpret it to mean be physically there. Now for how long? I don't see that it says.

Have you considered letting the Scout attend a different (shorter, more convenient) meeting?

YiS
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Postby Quailman » Tue May 29, 2007 8:51 pm

I think that part of the experience of attending a meeting might include the rules of order bit when the meeting is opened, the observation of empty seats, if any, and the general atmosphere.

I am not a Cit in the Comm MB Counselor, but I'd ask him to go. You mentioned the city counsel meeting during the day. I'll bet the school board meets in the evening and it should also have issues relevant to the scout.
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Postby Quailman » Tue May 29, 2007 8:57 pm

And I forgot to add -

3.b says "Choose one of the issues discussed at the meeting where a difference of opinions was expressed, and explain to your counselor why you agree with one opinion more than you do another one. "


If he attends a meeting, as soon as two sides of one issue are addressed, and they move to a new topic, I'd let him leave.
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Postby sbushnel » Tue May 29, 2007 9:04 pm

Our school board only meets once every 6 weeks - and never during
the summer - so that's not very convenient. Courts here also only
meet only during the day. This boy has a full-time summer day job
lined up for when school is out but perhaps he could get a late lunch
break that would allow him to go to part of a city council meeting.
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Postby FrankJ » Tue May 29, 2007 9:29 pm

I would prefer that a scout attend a meeting in person, but in the right set of circumstances I could see accepting watching a meeting on TV. It up to the merit councilor to decide.
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Postby 616kayak » Tue May 29, 2007 9:41 pm

first time i did this was at a merit badge college. I watched the school board on TV for 45 minutes and took some really nice notes. my MBC denied it.
Later, part of my troop did the badge so i went with them to a town meeting from one of the incorporated cities nearby.
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Postby 2boysRscouts » Wed May 30, 2007 12:39 am

I am a C in C merit badge counselor and I have allowed this before. Although for our scouts attending the council meeting is an incredible experience - the mayor calls them up, introduces them, presents them with a pin, twice I have allowed a boy to watch the televised version. Between ball, band, studying, scouts, working, both had missed attending for months. I weighed their attendance versus them losing their enthusiasm for scouting.

I am not a "literal" counselor. This same requirement is a great example.

Do the following:
a. Attend a city or town council or school board meeting, or a municipal; county, or state court session.
b. Choose one of the issues discussed at the meeting where a difference of opinions was expressed, and explain to your counselor why you agree with one opinion more than you do another one.

Our city council has their "difference of opinions" in a private session prior to the public council. I have been to council at least 2 dozen times and have never heard anything near a "difference of opinion". Am I supposed to make the boys keep going and going until there is a debate?

I take my responsibility as a merit badge counselor seriously, but I also try to look at the individual scout when deciding whether they have fulfilled the requirement or not.
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Postby Quailman » Wed May 30, 2007 5:15 am

Although my oldest went to a municipal court session, the best 'difference of opinion' either of us has experienced was when we attended a property owners' association board meeting three years ago.

The County Commissioner had decided that we needed a sidewalk along a busy street through our subdivision and had allocated money to pay for it . The plan was for it to run along the west side of the busy street. That way, students who lived west of that street could use the sidewalk to get to two crossing points while walking to the elementary and intermediate schools (both a couple blocks to the east side). It made so much sense as it was explained that I figured there would be no debate. Then the NIMBY people sounded off (Not In My Back Yard). Two of the board members have property facing the street in question and the sidewalk would pass through their front yards. The debate went for three hours. We heard from the County Commissioner, School District Safety Officers, County Sheriff's Deputies, and dozens of homeowners. My son was amazed that grownups would shout each other down in public meetings. The municipal court session was really tame compared to that.
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Postby smtroop168 » Wed May 30, 2007 7:28 am

Attend means "to be present at". I took my guys to a town hall meeting that was sponsored by a local TV station. They got recognized and a couple were on the 1100 news. We also used this opportunity for Communications MB.

If they lose their scouting enthusiasm because they have to go to a meeting to work on an Eagle required MB, then we have bigger issues.

As always though it is the counselor's decision to make on if watching a TV meeting qualifies to sign the requirement off.
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Postby Mad Dog » Wed May 30, 2007 9:56 am

If we are going to be literal I don'tthink a town hall meeting fits the requirement. However if we look at what the requirement is trying to teach then yes a town hall meeting would be sufficient. So too would be watching a town council meeting via your local public access cable station. The reason the meetings are put on TV is so that citizens that normally could not be involved in the town politics have the opportunity to see what their elected officials are doing. Merit badge requirements are not written by lawyers taking into account every possibility of what could or could not be used to fulfil a requirement. Sometimes it is up to the MBC to make the call. I am a Communications MBC and there is a similiar requirement to attend a public meeting. I would accept watching it on TV.
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Postby joat » Wed May 30, 2007 10:11 am

How about reading about a meeting in the newspaper? That's practically the same as watching it on TV, and surely it meets the intent of the MB requirement.
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Postby smtroop168 » Wed May 30, 2007 10:40 am

I guess I could live with the TV if there was no other alternative but you don't get the interaction of being there and asking questions yourself.

The meeting we went to had all the county commissioners, borough councilmen, the mayor and one state representative and the audience, including my guys, fired questions at them for an hour.

My concern was the reason 2boysrscouts listed about "losing their scouting enthusiasm" on why he allowed the TV meeting.

The Counselor has the ultimate say as long as he's not adding or excluding requirements.
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Postby Lynda J » Wed May 30, 2007 10:52 am

Our City Council and School board meetings are held at 2:30 inthe afternoon once a month. It makes it hard for boys to get there during not only the school year but in the summer it both parents work.

We ended up going to a Municipal Court. I am glad we did that because one of the cases before the Judge was a young man that had locked a teacher out of the class room during school. The boys were interested in what the Judge told the mother. He informed her that if he had the authority he would charge her son with thieft because he had robbed the other students in the class of that amount of education.

I am not a fan of allowing boys to use viewing a meeting on TV. They are beginning to use TV for everything. I personally think it is better, when possible, that they actually go to a meeting.
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Postby scoutaholic » Wed May 30, 2007 11:27 am

Out City Council meets 3 times / month from 6-9 pm on Tuesday nights. That time schedule has usually been good for our scouts.

The meeting is not recorded or televised, so that has never been an option. I would be inclined toward having the boys attend in person.

joat - I would definately not count reading about the meeting in the newspaper. The newpaper is only likely to print the highlights, and will most likely print only one side of the arguments. The official minutes of the meeting, or a complete transcription may give enough detail (without the human interraction part), but I would still lean toward having them actually attend.
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Postby evmori » Wed May 30, 2007 4:36 pm

I'm a C in the C counselor. I would not accept a Scout watching a meeting on TV as attending.
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Postby optimist » Thu May 31, 2007 10:25 pm

joat wrote:How about reading about a meeting in the newspaper? That's practically the same as watching it on TV, and surely it meets the intent of the MB requirement.


I disagree. Reading a three or four paragraph newspaper article doesn't really compare to the experience of watching a meeting for an hour (or two or five...). Newspaper articles only provide a glimpse of what was said, what was intended, and what was implied. It's true that Scouts might not understand everything that happens at a meeting, it might go right over their heads, but they will surely not understand the give and take of the process if they are not exposed to it. A TV broadcast at least allows for that possibility.
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Postby Lynda J » Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:53 am

Most City Council or School Board Meetings last about 3 hours. Unless the artical in the paper gives a complete transcript of the meeting I would not accept this. And believe me many paper articles of this type of meetings can be very slanted toward the political standing of the paper.

We need to stop "dumbing down" requirements. The requirement stated ATTEND and that is exactly what the boys should do.
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Postby scouter01 » Sat Jun 02, 2007 12:41 am

just a what if, but what if u work summer and the meetings are during school days? what should happen ( assuming u working is needed by ur family, and skipping school isn't possible?)
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Postby evmori » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:39 am

It doesn't have to be a city council meeting. It can be a court session or school board meeting. There are a lot of options. And the requirement states ATTEND. That means go to. If you want to earn the badge make the time to complete the requirements.
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