Naperville’s last city council meeting (August 18) lasted 3 hours and 27 minutes (207 minutes) and at the 202 minute mark, Mayor Steve Chirico pitched an idea that appeared to fall flat. His idea was to start city council meetings at 6pm rather than 7pm in order to end earlier, thereby making it easier for participants and viewers to stay awake and alert. Council meetings oftentimes last late into the night, at times ending past midnight. Factor in occasional ‘closed sessions’ after regular meetings and you have some very long evenings. Watch and listen to Chirico as he makes the pitch:
Council member (Paul Hinterlong) took issue with the idea, along with councilman John Krummen’s head shake:
It doesn’t have to be a binary choice by either starting earlier or keeping it as it is. Why not simply move the meeting along more efficiently and thereby quicker. Since speakers have a 3-minute time limit, why not limit council members to 3-minutes. Also limit council members to two bites at the apple; they can only speak twice on the same issue. In essence requiring council members to express their thoughts more efficiently and concisely.
Also, too much time is wasted on unanimous decisions. If council members have done their homework ahead of time and they have a position on an agenda item, take a straw vote to see if they all agree on a position. If they do, then vote on it and be done with it.
Additionally, council members waste too much time by starting their comment with “I agree with everything that (blank) has said”. If they don’t have something new to add to the conversation, then don’t say anything.
It wouldn’t take much effort to cut meeting time in half. Council members simply need to eliminate endless pontificating. Is that asking too much?