Mayor moves to reorganize meetings

COSTA MESA — Hoping for a punctual 2011, Mayor Gary Monahan wants to move closed sessions to the end of the City Council meetings, he said.

The council will vote on the agenda item during Tuesday's meeting.

"We haven't met on time in probably eight or 10 months," Monahan said. "I think having these closed sessions before the meeting has been a failure. There's no reason to hold the public hostage and to keep them waiting on us when we're doing our closed sessions."

With issues like balancing the budget, the failed attempt to buy the Orange County Fairgrounds and negotiating employee contracts, the council at times has spent up to two hours behind closed doors, keeping the public waiting beyond the scheduled 6 p.m. start.

The closed-session meetings were traditionally at the end until recently, Monahan said, adding that he didn't know the reasons for the change.

Resident Lisa Reedy said she thinks moving the closed session to the end of the meeting is a "brilliant idea."

"I think you lose the audience if the meetings go too long," she said. "To keep the meetings on schedule, to encourage more public participation and public input, I think it makes sense to have the calendar switched around, so they can address the business they expect the public to participate in."

Monahan also wants to add announcements to the beginning of the meetings. They would keep the public aware of upcoming events, Monahan said.

The council members' comments, suggestions and reports would be moved to the end of the meeting, before the city manager and city attorney's reports, he said.

Councilwoman Wendy Leece said she's in agreement with changing the order to keep the meetings more efficient.

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