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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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