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Council to review oral-discussion policy

Laura Sturza

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.

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“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

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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

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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

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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,”

Ramos said.

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.


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