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The “Riggins Rules”

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Suggested Do’s & Don’ts for the Conduct of Public Hearings and the Deportment of Members of Boards, Commissions, & Other Bodies

1. Don’t accept an appointment or nomination to a Board, Commission, or Council unless you expect to attend 99.9999 percent of the regular and special meetings, including inspection trips, briefings and public functions where your presence is expected.

If your participation falls below 85 percent during any six months’ period, you should tender your resignation. You aren’t doing your job. Your aren’t keeping well enough informed to make intelligent decisions, and you are making other people do your work for you and assume your not inconsiderable responsibility. Your effectiveness and the regard given to your opinions by other members will be in direct ratio to your attendance.

2. Do create a good impression of city government. Remember that this is the first important contact that many of the people in the audience have had with the administration of their city and for some this is the most important matter in which they have ever been involved. Many will never be back again and many will never have another such contact and experience. Your performance will create in their minds the picture which they will always carry with them of “the way the city is run.” Make it as pleasant and comforting a picture as possible.

3. Do be on time. If the hearing is scheduled at 7:30, the gavel should descend at the exact hour, and the hearing begin, if there is a quorum. If you have to wait ten minutes for a quorum and there are 100 people in the room, the straggler has wasted two full working days of someone’s time besides creating a very bad beginning for what is a very important occasion for most of those present.

4. Don’t dress like a bum. Shave, wear a tie, and remember that a coat is never out of place. The people in the audience think you are a very important person. Don’t disappoint them by your appearance, conduct, and attitude.

5. Don’t mingle with friends, acquaintances, unknown applicants or objectors in the audience before the meeting or during a recess period, if it can be politely avoided. You will invariably create the impression with the uninformed that there is something crooked going on, especially when you vote favorably on the case of the applicant you were seen conversing with. When the other fellow’s case comes up and you deny it, he says, “Well, it’s easy enough to see that you’ve gotta know the right people if you ever expect to get anywhere around here.” Save your socializing and fraternizing for some other time and place. …

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