Without revealing the age of any local editorial writers (our work may be timeless, but we are not) let's just say it's easy to sympathize with senior citizens in Little Egg Harbor Township who want Township Committee meetings to have an earlier starting time.
The seniors are blaming low turnout at the meetings on the fact that they start at 8 p.m., not a very convenient time for people who may have trouble driving in the dark and who generally are no longer staying up to catch David Letterman each night.
The late-starting and late-ending meetings may be discouraging others from showing up as well, such as those who have to get up early for work, says 73-year-old Art Mooney, who has been pushing the committee to schedule earlier meetings.
Some towns do that now. In nearby Tuckerton, council meetings start at 7 p.m. The Barnegat Township Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. Township Committee in Eagleswood Township meets at 7 p.m., as does Township Council in Stafford Township. Long Beach Township's Board of Commissioners meets at 4 p.m.
Of course, whenever a public body meets, that time will be inconvenient for someone. Back in 2001, City Council in Atlantic City was criticized for holding its meetings at 3 p.m., a time that meant that just about anyone with a job outside City Hall was unable to attend. Since then, council meetings have been moved to 5 p.m.
So what's the magic meeting time? Who knows?
But in Little Egg Harbor Township, which has a number of politically active seniors - and five senior and retirement communities - an earlier hour certainly seems appropriate.
The Township Committee should try meeting at 7 p.m., or even 6 p.m. It might also want to do what other towns have tried, staggering the times of workshop and regular meetings so that one is early and the other is later.
The principle to keep in mind is that bodies doing the public's business should make it as easy as possible for the public to know what's going on and to be involved.
That's why public records should be open and accessible, it's why public actions should be posted on Web sites, and it's why meeting times should be set to accommodate as many people as possible.
And if seniors in Little Egg Harbor Township want earlier meeting times, they need to do their part. When Township Committee does schedule earlier meetings - show up.