The Naperville city council doesn’t take too kindly to the public forum portion of city council meetings. Why should they? Typically city council members have already made up their minds on most issues presented during public forum. It’s as if they see that portion of the meeting as an inconvenient intrusion to their agenda.
City council members may hear the presenters, but do they really listen, do they really care? It seems doubtful. When city council members are busy with their devices, talking to each other, or shuffling papers, they surely are not giving their full attention to the speakers. Often times, the only response a speaker gets from the council is a dismissive ‘thank you’ at the end of their comments.
During the November 21 city council meeting, Naperville resident Jim Haselhorst addressed the city council regarding the SECA (Special Events Cultural Activities) fund. Watch and listen as Haselhorst makes some spot-on accurate comments:
Haselhorst is absolutely correct. The last thing council members want to hear is criticism directed toward them. You can usually tell when a speaker’s comments make council members uncomfortable, because the speaker is dismissed with nothing more than a polite ‘thank you’.
Council members would probably respond to that by saying either 1) the speaker presented a comment, not a question, or 2) public forum is not a dialogue. That sounds plausible, but the facts are that council members have responded to presenters they like, or responded to comments with which they agree.
The good news is that presenter’s comments are on the record for all to hear, and those watching and listening realize the presenter has been shooed away like a fly at a picnic.
Sadly this Naperville city council, unlike other recent councils, has a group-speak mindset, walking in lockstep. Oh, there are occasional differences of opinion, and votes that are not unanimous, but when it comes to speaking up in support of speakers, most council members will not break-away from the group mindset. It takes courage to do that; something that some council members lack.