Every now and then I have the need to organize and simplify things. I tend to do it sooner rather than later. My family and friends believe I am obsessive-compulsive. I came to the realization they were correct while I was hanging my shirts in the closet according to the color spectrum. As an only child being raised in a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago, I was able to keep my toys exactly where I wanted them, hence it was easier to organize and find them. It worked.
The new Naperville city council decided to get things better organized and simplify city council meeting procedures, when they tackled the opportunity at their June 30 city council workshop meeting.. Notice I didn’t say, ‘tackle the problem’. How could organizing and simplifying anything be a problem.
The meeting consumed almost four hours, and frankly they did a great job of accomplishing their goal. Yes, I know Frank had nothing to do with it, but somebody at city hall was the instigator for spearheading this venture, and my guess is it was mayor Steve Chirico. If not, then he was the one with the most to gain by getting meetings to run on a more efficient level.
It was during this meeting that the council decided to shelve Robert’s Rules Of Order, in favor of creating their own rules. After listening to that portion of the meeting, it seemed as though the new rules, though fewer, were just as difficult as ever to understand. That’s the benefit of having city attorney Jill Pelka-Wilger sitting at the dais, acting an an umpire to explain the rules.
Even though city council members voted to approve the changes, I rather doubt that the majority of council members could pass a multiple choice test on new rules, hence the intensified need for Pelka-Wilger to remain near the dais at all times, and within shouting distance at the municipal center during office hours.
One of the rules discussed involved citizen participation during public forum, which allows for a total of 30 minutes of time, and each speaker being allowed up to three minutes presentation time. The issue is what happens if there are speakers remaining after the 30 minutes have elapsed. Do they extend the 30 minutes to allow all to talk which could take all night, or do they keep the 30-minute limit and divide the time by the number of speakers. Hence, 60 speakers could have 30 seconds each, or just enough time to get to the podium, give their name, and get back to their seat.
Then bingo, common sense met creativity when mayor Chirico came up with an Occam’s Razor solution. Watch and listen to city attorney Mike DiSanto set the table for Chirico’s solution:
Followed by councilman Kevin Coyne’s support for the idea.
Finally, proof that government can work, at least for this meeting. Now if the same can be said for following meetings, Watchdog can retire, and get back to organizing my pens by color, and separating my little paper clips from the big ones.