If you have ever talked with someone and you realize that they are not listening and don’t care, then you know what it would be like talking to the Naperville city council. They really don’t listen and for the most part they really don’t care. It’s quite evident during the Public Forum portion of the city council meeting. Typically up to ten residents can make a presentation lasting up to three minutes each. As you watch the city council members during this portion of the meeting, you get the feeling that the city council can’t wait for Public Forum to end. They endure it as if it were a root canal; painful and excruciating, a necessary evil.
Addressing the city council goes something like this:
- a city official calls out your name, sometimes pronouncing it correctly, and you proceed to the podium
- the council has the speaker out numbered 11 to 1 ( nine council members along with the city manager and city attorney)
- the dais is elevated so it’s as if the speaker is presenting to Mount Rushmore
- once the speaker begins, he or she is interrupted and required to state name and address.
- The speaker is allowed 3 minutes to make a presentation and is then interrupted by the time keeper. If the mayor likes what is being said, you likely can continue; if not, then you get a hard halt and you’re finished.
- During a speaker’s presentation, some council members use this time to look around the room, read, make notes, chat with each other, look at their computer screens, or perfect the art of the ‘sitting nap’; this is defined as looking like you’re awake, while actually catching a quick nap.
- The speaker is then given a cursory ‘thank you’ and that’s it. The whole process is typically an exercise in futility for the speaker.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures. Watch and listen as David Sinker nails this point when he addresses the Naperville city council.