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City should return to former comment policy

This is in regard to the City Council reviewing its policies on

public comment. The changes made to the public comment policy a few

years ago were nothing more than an attempt by the council to limit

public input. The present policy should be changed back to the way it

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was before the council got high-handed.

As it is, there is a goofy one-minute segment on any city business

prior to the beginning of the council meeting. The one-minute segment

is so short that most speakers, especially first-timers, get cut

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short.

Additionally, the multiple speaking periods are so confusing that

it is distracting. When former Councilman David Laurell attempted to

explain the new policy, he couldn’t correctly add up the total number

of minutes available to speakers. Mr. Laurell also thought the

one-minute segment was a totally adequate amount of time. But as

loquacious as he is, he couldn’t tell you what he had for breakfast

in one minute.

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The primary segment of time available to speakers is the

four-minute segment prior to the council beginning its deliberations.

This segment is limited to agenda items only. Who controls the

agenda? The council does. Who then controls what the public can say?

Once again, the council does.

Earlier, there was consideration given to not only limit comment

to agenda items but to limit the comments to action items on the

agenda. I doubt that the council members are much different than the

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rest of us in that they pretty well have their minds made up on an

issue before they reach the meeting. In fact, if they haven’t done

their homework and have a reasonably good idea on how they are going

to vote, at least on most issues, they probably are derelict in their

duties. The time to raise an issue with the council is in the weeks

before they actually vote on it so that one’s ideas can be

incorporated into their decision making.

Many issues, such as the Platt Project, are ongoing and are very

pertinent city business, but a speaker can not address this horribly

over-sized project unless it is specifically on the agenda for a

given meeting.

In fact, the Platt Project is the perfect example of why speakers

should be allowed to speak -- and lobby the council -- against the

project. Why is that? Is there anyone naive enough to believe that

Platt and his public relations people are not constantly lobbying the

council? Behind-the-scenes lobbying by the powerful is not agenda

driven.

What with Councilman Golonski stating at a recent meeting that the

Platt Project is not “dead,” and that the “property is ripe for

development,” and with Community Development Director Sue Georgino

continuing to twist zoning rules in favor of the project, the public

is put at a disadvantage by not being able to bring it up at a

council meeting.

All of this can be changed very simply by going back to the old

rules and allowing four- or five-minute segments prior to the meeting

for items of city business and eliminating the goofy one-minute

segments.

RON VANDERFORD

Burbank


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