Benjamin wants more 'civil', 'respectful' dialogue in public mee - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Benjamin wants more 'civil', 'respectful' dialogue in public meetings

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As the City of Columbia enters a critical decision-making phase in regard to hiring a new police chief and whether or not a minor league baseball stadium will be built, Mayor Steve Benjamin says he's looking for more "civil" and "respectful" dialogue during public meetings.

In a statement released Tuesday evening, Benjamin says recent debate on these issues have left a lot to be desired.

"Over the past severalmonths the tone and tenor of our public discourse has left a great deal to bedesired as passionate debate and constructive criticism has too often devolvedinto divisiveness, distrust and personal attack," said Benjamin.

This statement comes after several weeks worth of public meetings about the Bull Street baseball stadium proposal, the search for a new police chief, and even the strong mayor debate have devolved into shouting matches and angry verbal volleys between council members and even members of the public.

Benjamin noted council must lead by example if he truly wants civil discourse to be repaired.

"Let'sratchet down the rhetoric and take a breath," said Benjamin. "Let's start talking with eachother instead of at one another. Let's put aside whatever personaldisagreements we may have and start respecting each other, if not asindividuals then at least as those the people of Columbia have chosen torepresent them."

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