Mayesville leaders need to follow Robert's Rules of Order closely if they hope to make any progress


I don't think government meetings are supposed to be entertaining.

That's not to say they can't be interesting or informative, but if government meetings entertain in the same way a reality television show or an overheard fight between your neighbors entertains, then those meetings might not be entirely productive.

I haven't been in this business for very long, but I have never seen a government meeting as entertaining as those in the town of Mayesville.

On North Main Street in Mayesville is the Mary McLeod Bethune Learning Center, where town officials hold government meetings, but that building isn't even government-owned, as you might have read in my reporting, and only a few yards in front of it on South Main Street is Mayesville Town Hall, and it's painted with mold.

I was at a public hearing put on by Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments in February, and the speaker told the people of Mayesville who were in attendance they could go to their town hall to receive documents on grant-funded projects.

And people laughed.

Because no one is stepping foot in that town hall for fear of illness.

I felt I was taking a risk when writing the lede to my story called, "3 interviewed for Mayesville town attorney; council members disagree with mayor and public's preference."

My lede was as follows:

"During the recent town of Mayesville council meeting, multiple people addressed council like a mother would address an unruly child in a grocery store. With reprimand, embarrassment, frustration."

But my observation was accurate and backed up by what was said during public comment.

I write all of this not to poke fun at anyone but to give readers who do not live in Mayesville a glimpse into what the people who do live there are dealing with.

I was asked whose fault is the Mayesville drama.

I do not know.

And I also do not think it's that simple.

I do know, however, that hardly ever is a conflict completely the fault of one side. It is incredibly rare that one side is completely blameless.

So, who are the sides? Well, the sides might be recently elected Mayor Chris Brown along with some Mayesville residents, and the other side might be council members along with the clerk and some Mayesville residents.

That's at least the impression given during government meetings, but I did hear from one resident something that really made me hurt for the people of Mayesville.

This person, a resident, told me that the Mayesville drama is the fault of the people who live there.

I was shocked. And I asked why this person thought that. And this person told me the people of Mayesville let leadership go awry right under their noses. They didn't start paying attention until it had graduated from odd to wild, this person thought.

I disagree with this. This is not the fault of the people of Mayesville.

When a government operates smoothly, amicably and efficiently, there should not be any reason for the people who live there to keep such a keen eye on them. Sure, no matter what, citizens should keep an eye on their leaders (and journalists should watch them incredibly closely no matter what), and citizens should also take advantage of the ways they can have a say in governmental affairs, but citizens should be able to go about their daily lives without fear that their government is going awry.

So the people of Mayesville have gone about their daily lives, and no one could have expected them to see this coming.

But when did "this coming" happen? Again, I don't know. I don't know if it began with the former mayor or the current one or before either of them was even born.

Regardless, there is work to be done. Work to be done for the people of Mayesville who are in need of a team of leaders who really do operate as a team.

I think a simple place to begin is for council meetings to follow Robert's Rules of Order. I credit this idea to Erin McArthur, who was in a committee to interview potential town attorneys and told council this idea outright during a meeting.

According to, "Robert's Rules of Order is America's foremost guide to parliamentary procedure. It is used by more professional associations, fraternal organizations, and local governments than any other authority."

In other words, it's a guideline that formal meetings with boards or councils often follow in order to remain on task and efficient. It's the "I call for a motion to," "I second that motion," "All in favor say, 'I,'" and so on.

Mayesville leaders attempt to follow this. That much is clear. But they don't follow it very well.

Following Robert's Rules of Order won't fix all, but I think it is a good start.

On another note, I do want Mayesville leaders to know that I have enjoyed meeting all of them I have had the pleasure of speaking to so far. I personally have no gripes with any of them. I can't imagine the huge task they have at hand, and I hope they are going forth with the people of Mayesville as their priority.

Bryn Eddy is newsletter editor and reporter for The Sumter Item.