040307hearing1.jpg The setting had all the trappings for a packed house and a long night of angry voices. On the stage of the Floyd County High School auditorium sat the board of supervisors, looking like the lineup out of the move, "The Usual Suspects."

The supervisors booked the large auditorium in case a howling mob of angry county residents came to protest a proposed budget that included the second increase in real estate taxes in three years.

But the mob had beter things to do.

The sparse group of 23, mostly teachers angry about a proposed cut in their cost of living salary increase, occupied only a small corner of the cavernous hall.

Of the nine who spoke, seven were teachers, and no one said a word about the proposed tax increase.

The hearing ended 43 minutes after it started. In a night devoted primarily devoted primarily to education, one might call the hearing a test of participatory democracy. If so, the residents of Floyd County failed the test and democracy drowned in a sea of apathy. 040307hearing2.jpg