Burbank Gadflies May Get 2 More Minutes to Buzz
The noisiest talk show in Burbank may be returning in a couple of weeks.
Members of the Burbank City Council, who in November voted to reduce the five-minute limit on public comment to three minutes because of complaints that gadflies caused meetings to last too long, gave the go-ahead Tuesday to restore the five-minute rule.
The council voted 3 to 2 to place on next Tuesday’s agenda a proposal to restore the rule after a heated exchange between Mayor Michael Hastings and the city’s most vocal critic, Jules Kimmett.
Kimmett argued that he was not being allowed enough time to speak during the public-comment part of the meeting, a complaint that had been echoed by others attending council meetings.
Kimmett became so vocally abusive that Hastings asked Police Chief Glen Bell, who serves at the council’s sergeant at arms, to remove Kimmett from the meeting. Nonetheless, Kimmett’s arguments found support on the council.
Hastings and council members Mary Lou Howard and Al F. Dossin agreed that three minutes is not enough time for speakers to adequately address their concerns. The three voted to reconsider the time-limit next Tuesday.
“The three-minute rule was just a test program,” Hastings said. “If someone has something to say on an agenda item, it may take them five minutes to get to the meat of what they want to express. If they want to speak on more than one item, it’s impossible to do in three minutes.”
Howard, who had voted against changing the limit last year, said: “Many times we have items involving millions of dollars. People should have longer than three minutes to speak on those.”
However, council members Mary E. Kelsey and Robert R. Bowne said they believe that the three-minute rule should remain.
“These gadflies are ruining everything,” Kelsey said. “Anyone who had a legitimate complaint could have more time if the council agreed to give it to them. It’s kind of silly to change it back when we just did it.”
Kimmett was one of the regular speakers who contributed to the decision to restrict public comment. Several council members said they had received complaints from viewers of the meetings’ live cable broadcasts that speakers were taking too long.
Some gadflies, which included a presidential candidate of the American Nazi Party and a resident who complained of being menaced by people with sophisticated radar, were taking up time at each meeting.
The council late last year decided to reduce the public-comment limit to three minutes.