Less than two years after the City Council revised its public-comment
policy at meetings, Councilman Dave Golonski has asked his colleagues
to consider returning to the previous procedure.
“I think it’s working OK, but I’m interested in looking at
alternatives,” Golonski said of the existing process, which was
expanded from three to four public-comment periods in June 2001. “We
have a new council, and quite frankly, I would rather have a
flexible oral communications [policy] if it’s workable.”
Under the existing system, the public can address the council
during four comment periods: before closed session; for one minute on
any item of city business following announcements and public
hearings; for four minutes on agenda items; and again on any item of
city business for three minutes at the end of the meeting.
Golonski is proposing a return to three comment periods in which
the one-minute and four-minute periods were combined to include
comment on any item of city business. He says the existing
four-minute comment period limits people to speaking only on agenda
items, though they can speak on any item of city business during the
one-minute and three-minute periods.
“I think the way we have it now is working ... and we’ve all
admitted that it works really well, so I don’t know why [Golonski
asked for a review],” Mayor Stacey Murphy said before the meeting.
Golonski admits the former policy, in which people could address
the council on any item of city business for five minutes during a
single period at the start of the meeting, has merits and drawbacks.
On the plus side, he said, speakers were not restricted to
speaking only on agenda items. The downside, he added, was that
people could wait for hours before speaking because of lengthy
discourses by regular speakers.
The new system’s one-minute policy allows people to make a quick
pitch and go home if they want.
Vice Mayor Marsha Ramos welcomed the prospective change.
“I have always supported the five-minute oral communication on any
item, because people are frustrated by the one-minute time limit,”
By press time, the council had not considered the item. Members
could decide to ask the city attorney’s office to return with more
information about making a change, the next step in the process, City
Atty. Dennis Barlow said.