Friday, January 8, 2016

City Council - Conduct of Meetings

Council meetings are to conduct the business of the city.  In support of that purpose, I have put "conduct of meetings" on the agenda for discussion.  It takes seven Council members to make an effective meeting so I am very interested to hear from my colleagues and the public.  Here is some of what I have to say:

1. I want to give each member of the public the same right to speak and I will treat all speakers the same.  Letting some speakers extend for another 5 or 10 minutes and not letting others does not seem like equal treatment.  In fact, our Corporation Counsel just indicated to me that unequal treatment could be seen as a "content based restriction on speech", in essence a violation of rights by those not given a 5 minute extension.

2. I will do my best to assist members of the public who come to the microphone seeking help on a problem specific to them.  Many times these problems can be handled off-line by one of our department heads and I will ask that this approach be used more often.  Of course, speakers who have tried to get help from city hall and did not get satisfaction will have the full attention of the Council.

3. I will ask the City Clerk and/or Corporation Counsel to explain the meeting motion "point of order" and will do my utmost to abide by this rule.

4.  Respect for each person at our meetings is paramount. This is a responsibility we must all own.  The Council President particularly is responsible should disrespectful behavior be exhibited and I will not allow such behavior to continue.  When we criticize, do so not of a person but their position, statement or behavior.

I don't expect that everyone will agree all the time.  Especially as we get closer to election times.  But I encourage all stakeholders to put the issues first - those critical subjects like public safety, quality of life and taxes. 

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