The 2,000 speakers and protesters who shouted, chanted and waved signs Monday night at the first public hearing on the Prince George's County budget got bad reviews yesterday morning from their audience, the County Council.
Clearly wearied from hearing hours of speeches the night before, the council rejected a suggestion by Council member Sue V. Mills that an additional public hearing be added to the three already scheduled.
"By the time you hear half of the next public hearing," said Council member Floyd E. Wilson, "all the rest will just be a recapitulation of what you've already heard. By the time you go to that third meeting, you will really be tired of hearing all that stuff over and over again.
"In Fact," Wilson said, "if you want to start saving money, I'll make a resolution right now to kill (the third hearing)."
"This will go on and on if we don't cut it off," said Council member Deborah R. Marshall. "We could probably hold a marathon in the Capital Centre. But we need to get on to our work session where we are going to decide where the money's going."
Council members protested that the speeches the night before had been long, repetitive, and had focused too heavily on the appeals of special interest groups whose programs were cut back in County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan's proposed budget.
"I know there were just special interests there last night," conceded Mills, "but if you give more time eventually you have a chance to hear some of the individual citizens."
Eventually, the council compromised by agreeing to start its next public hearing, on May 1 in the council chambers in Upper Marlboro, at 6 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.
Council Chairman William B. Amonett said "if we continue to schedule public hearings, there's no end to it. I think we've gone the limit."