• Council tables speaker cards

    A few “protest signs” were visible,  but it seems they were not needed. The City Council decided – unanimously, and without even calling for a vote – to look for other alternatives for making City Council meetings shorter, alternatives which do not call for methods that are construed as limiting the rights of the public to be heard.
    Arising out of discussions at councilmember “boot camp” and later at a council retreat, two resolutions were placed on the agenda for the April 1, 2009 City Council meeting.
    The first involved removing the public’s right to remove an item from the consent agenda and place it on the regular agenda. At present, the public, or a councilmember or a staff member can request that an item be taken from the consent agenda at a City council meeting, where there would be no public comment at the meeting, and place it back on the regular agenda where questions and comments could be heard. The proposed resolution would have reserved that right for council and staff members. Citing two prior resolutions, one from 1995 and one from 2001, City Attorney David Laredo said that the proposed resolution would have brought those two older resolutions into alignment with each other and with the Municipal Code.
    Speaker after speaker went to the podium to protest the item, and while some did speak in favor of it, the majority were opposed to it. It was pointed out that only twice in recent months has a consent agenda item been moved to the regular agenda by a member of the public.
    Two council members said they might consider it if it were amended, or might agree to try it for a short period of time, but none were in favor of it as written.
    The other resolution which was refused was one requesting “speaker cards,” such as are used by some other municipalities and some county governments. Effectively, a speaker card would give staff and council an idea of how many people want to speak on given agenda items at any meeting. The cards would be completed prior to the City Council meeting, but allegedly public participating would not be limited to those who had filled out a card. By the time discussion was over, it was agreed that the only advantage the speaker cards had was to give staff the correct spelling of the speaker’s name.
    City council members are going back to the drawing board, therefore, to find other ways to shorten council meetings.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on April 2, 2009

    Topics: Breaking News, Current Edition, Front PG News

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