If you are thinking about submitting a written comment to be read at a city council meeting, you can forget about it; it’s not going to happen. The city council voted unanimously to not having written comments read out- loud during council meetings, but rather to have those comments buried in the city website, most likely never to be seen, unless of course someone wants to take the time to dig them out.
The unanimous vote further proves that the council as a whole doesn’t really care about what people have to say about an issue. Does anyone really think that most council members will actively search-out those comments and take the time to read them? A few might, like councilmen Pat Kelly, Kevin Coyne, and Paul Hinterlong, along with the mayor, but it’s more than doubtful that others will invest the time. Councilwoman Judy Brodhead foolishly admitted recently that she considers research as grunt work to be done by staff.
Because of COVID, written comments have been allowed and submitted through online speaker sign-up, which are then read by staff during the council meeting. The problem, as the council sees it, is that by reading comments during council meetings it became “very cumbersome, because of the large volume” and “it got to be so easy” for people to be heard. Watch and listen to Mayor Chirico as he says so much in so few words:
Apparently, by ‘making it easy’ for people is not supposed to be how government works.
Now watch and listen to city manager Doug Krieger as he explains how the process can work if too many people show up to speak on an issue if and when doors open:
Folks can congregate outside until you are called into council chambers to speak your piece. Make sure you bring your earmuffs, much like they do at Trader Joe’s when standing in line waiting to buy a can of peas. You might as well bring a shovel to make yourself useful while waiting.
The 9 to 0 vote provides three ways for folks to participate: 1) speaking live (including Zoom) for up to three minutes during a meeting, 2) providing a simple pro / con position on an issue and 3) submitting a written comment which no longer will be read out-loud for all to hear.
Most importantly, let’s not make it too easy for people to be heard, right?