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Morning Persons, Night Persons and Local Government

Most local government volunteer boards and committees meet at night. Does this mean we are only hearing from one segment of the population?

Many people refer to themselves as either  a “morning person” or a “night person”.  I am the latter.  Typically “morning persons” like to say they arise between 4 and 6 in the morning and do their best productive work in those early hours of the day.  They are ready for bed by 9 at night. 

“Night persons” abhor getting up before 7:30 or 8am or even later. It takes them awhile to wake up – a good jolt of coffee is a necessity for sure.  Nothing productive happens before the morning rituals are complete – coffee, newspaper reading, etc.

As a person involved in local government, I believe that volunteer involvement is decidedly biased towards “night persons”.  Most committee and board meetings are held in the evening.  This is mostly because the daytime hours are considered to be largely devoted to paying work or full time parenting for most potential volunteers.  Although this is changing somewhat due to more people working from home and more flexible scheduling, it is still true that very few local government committees or boards meet in the daytime. 

“Morning persons” who put in a full day of work in the nine-to-five (or more) hours are probably less likely to volunteer for committees or boards that meet at night.  They are ready to call it a day by the time most of these groups start to meet – around 7:30 or 8pm.  It is also likely true that “morning persons” are less likely to attend public hearings or other meetings where public input is either received or dispensed.   I wonder if this makes a difference in the kind of input received by members of a committee or board.

I don’t know what makes a person a “night person” or a “morning person” or if they have significantly different points of view on local matters.  Scheduling an occasional public hearing during daytime hours might help answer that question.  On the other hand it might be hard to get a quorum of the board holding such a public hearing as most volunteer boards are currently manned by “night persons”.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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