Public Forum Etiquette

During every Naperville city council meeting, there is an agenda item that allows citizens to voice their opinions about any topic of their choosing. After registering and being called up to the podium the speaker must state their name and home address. The speaker then has three minutes to convey their thoughts. This three minutes seems to start as soon as the speaker reaches the podium and mouths a single syllable. In my review of the last three Naperville city council meetings, it seems that the speakers are interrupted if what they are saying puts the council in a negative light or if the speaker is requesting something of the city (donations, review of procedures, unsafe or unwise legislation). In the below video, the speakers being cut off is highlighted and you can see that not every speaker seems pleased that they are cut off in mid-sentence or mid-thought. Imagine if the Scripts national spelling bee in Washington D.C. had a timekeeper or judge who after an incorrect letter was enunciated, in an unprofessional and disrespectful manor over-modulated the words “THE SPELLER’S TIME IS UP” or “THE SPELLER IS WRONG”. I believe a better solution to this three minute limit is to perhaps have a simple countdown clock that shows the speaker how much time they have left to speak. Naperville is facing serious budgetary concerns and it seems that the city is trying to reduce overhead (i.e. reduction of police force, reduction of city employees and replacement of city employees with electronic monitoring devices). If the Naperville city council decides they need to reduce additional staff, I believe the timekeeper could easily be replaced by a $6 digital clock which I would offer to the city as a donation. An additional idea would be for Naperville city council meetings to be like the Oscars and have an orchestra drown out the speaker.

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