Council Mulls Speaking Rule Changes

Time limits for speaking – by public and councilmembers – proposed to be shortened; public speaking turns would be 2 minutes

A June 13, 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor city council’s rules committee has resulted in proposed revisions to the council’s rules, many of which affect speaking turns and time – for members of the public and for councilmembers.

An across-the-board change for city council meeting public speaking times is a reduction from three minutes to two minutes.

An across-the-board proposed change for city council meeting public speaking times is a reduction from three minutes to two minutes for each turn. The two councilmember speaking turns per question are proposed to be reduced from five to three minutes, and from three to two minutes.

The revisions will be considered by the full council at its June 17 meeting, as agenda item 13-0767. [.pdf of marked up rules for June 17, 2013 council meeting]

Among the changes is a proposal that an opportunity for general public commentary explicitly be included in the standard agenda template for the council’s work sessions – scheduled for the second and fourth Mondays of the month.

However, the length of public participation speaking turns is proposed to be reduced – from three minutes to two minutes – across all categories of public input, at both work sessions and regular meetings. Types of public speaking turns that would be limited to two minutes include: formal public hearings; general public commentary; and the 10 speaking slots that can be reserved in advance of a council meeting.

The procedure for reserving one of those 10 slots is also proposed to be revised. Only people who did not address the council at its immediately previous meeting would be eligible to reserve a slot. And of the 10 slots, eight would be designated for those who want to address the council on agenda action items. Two slots would be provided for those who want to address the council on any topic.

Given the council’s two meetings per month, the change would mean that a person would potentially be able to reserve a slot at the start of a meeting once a month. But anyone would still be able to address the council during general commentary time at the end of any meeting. The right to address public bodies during their meetings is provided by Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

Speaking time for councilmembers is also proposed to be reduced. For each item considered by the council, councilmembers get two speaking turns. Councilmember speaking time is proposed to be reduced by a total of three minutes – from five to three minutes for the first turn, and from three to two minutes for the second turn.

Other changes are meant to give some clarity to the timeline for preparing the council’s agenda. The goal is to ensure that a regular meeting agenda is less susceptible to late additions of items or the late addition of supporting informational material for the items.

Added after initial publication: On the regular meeting agenda template, the time for mayoral communications, which include nominations to boards and commissions, is proposed to be moved from near the end of the meeting to just after the initial public commentary reserved time at the beginning of the meeting.

A rule is also proposed that would prohibit councilmembers from using mobile telecommunications devices while seated at the council table during a meeting.

The rules committee is also proposing to change the meta-rule about how the council’s rules can be changed. Currently, the meta-rule requires that the councilmembers not vote to adopt rule revisions unless they were presented with the changes at a previous meeting. The proposed change is to require only that councilmembers are provided with the proposed rule changes in advance of a meeting – as part of the regular agenda preparation process. Under the existing meta-rule, the council would need to wait until its July 1 meeting to adopt the new rules.

However, based on the rules committee discussion on June 13, the intent is to ask the full council to adopt the revised rules at its June 17 meeting – in accordance with the revised meta-rule on rule changes. Rules committee members indicated on June 13 they’d be content to use another provision in the rules – a 2/3 majority vote to suspend temporarily the existing rules – to adopt the rules changes on June 17. 

The proposed rules changes come in the context of a council “workshop” held on April 29 when representatives of the Michigan Municipal League (MML) gave councilmembers advice about how to manage their meetings more effectively. The council’s April 15 meeting, for example, lasted until around 3 a.m. at which point the council voted to postpone all remaining agenda items until its next meeting.

At the council’s May 6 meeting, the council used a different strategy, voting to recess its meeting and to resume it on May 13. The proposed new rules include that parliamentary option explicitly in the list of possible council actions. When a meeting is resumed at a later date, that subsequent session of  the same meeting need not include the reserved public comment time or public hearings that were held when the meeting started.

Also part of the context for the MML  workshop was a series of council work sessions this spring on the city’s budget that featured at least some deliberative interactions by councilmembers. Because there was no opportunity for public commentary provided at those work sessions, the council was in apparent violation of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act. The new rules, which explicitly include public commentary on work session agendas, would eliminate the potential for that violation, and allow councilmembers to engage in unfettered deliberations.

The Ann Arbor city attorney’s position has been that it’s possible to convene a gathering of councilmembers and to limit their verbal behavior to just asking questions, thereby avoiding “deliberations.” That would leave such a gathering short of the threshold for a “meeting” as defined under the Open Meetings Act. On that basis, the council had not previously included an opportunity for public commentary at its work sessions.

Coco Siewert, a professional parliamentarian with MML, spoke with Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) before the council’s April 29 workshop about the nature of the council’s work sessions. Responding to the idea put forward by Higgins that Ann Arbor councilmembers did not deliberate during work sessions,  because they confined their remarks to asking questions, Siewert told Higgins:

… the moment you ask the question, to me, you are deliberating. You are pointing out a piece of it that is of interest to you. And invariably, city councilmembers say, “But isn’t it true that if … isn’t it true that if you do that, that this will happen?” And I call that deliberation.

The council’s rules committee consists of Marcia Higgins (chair), Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and mayor John Hieftje.

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  1. June 15, 2013 at 10:41 am | permalink

    I am happy that the proposed rule changes dispense with the fiction that work sessions are not meeting subject to all of the requirements of the Open Meetings Act. While that acknowledgement means that the sessions will require opportunity for public comment, it also frees Council to fully explore the matters before them. This change is long overdue.

    I do not support the reduction in speaking time from 3 minutes to 2. Anyone who has appeared before Council will tell you that 3 minutes is not much time to convey a reasoned statement on a topic of public interest. I do hope Council will reject this change.

  2. By Mark Koroi
    June 15, 2013 at 4:54 pm | permalink

    @Jack Eaton:

    Agreed. I first addressed City Council about the “work session” requiring Public Commentary being allowed on March 18th – but you were the first to raise the matter publicly as a post on the Ann Arbor Chronicle. Dave Askins later agreed with our conclusion when covering my public commentary address on March 18th.

    I told City Council that I and others would not hestitate to bring legal action to enforce the Open Meetings Act in that regard.

    The 3-minute proposed change to two minutes is unwise for the reasons you have set forth. This change proposal was likely motivated by the “citizen’s filibuster” activity that occurred in conjunction with the 413 E.Huron matter.

    The “one meeting per month” for introductory public commentary is likely resulting from the City Council aversion to hearing from Tom Partridge as well as others who may appear week after week. I see this limitation as unfair in the event that any of the ten slots for initial Public Commentary go unfilled as it would deprive a citizen from addressing City Council for second time during that initial period during the same month.

    A number of years ago there was discussion about banning Blaine Coleman, the attorney and pro-Palestine activist, altogether from the Public Commentary period. At one point he was arrested by a police officer at John Hieftje’s direction due to disapproval over language on a placard Mr. Coleman was displaying.

  3. By Linda Diane Feldt
    June 16, 2013 at 11:03 am | permalink

    Public commentary is necessary. But is it effective? If it takes more than two minutes to make your point, I believe it would be far more effective to put it in a well written communication, or even a phone call to your council representative before the meeting. It is not easy to listen effectively to hours of speakers. Very important concerns and considerations get lost. In my experience of trying to influence sity council (beginning when I was 10 years old) clear communication before a meeting is especially effective, and also allows follow up.
    Meetings that last until midnight or far beyond are not effective. They limit who can serve, who can endure, and who can participate from the public. It also makes coverage more difficult for journalists.
    Democracy should not be this painful, or long.
    These sound like good first steps in improving process, which should also improve democracy.

  4. By Linda Diane Feldt
    June 16, 2013 at 11:04 am | permalink

    that should read “city council”, of course. Odd typo.

  5. By Steve Bean
    June 16, 2013 at 11:19 am | permalink

    @3: I don’t necessarily disagree about the time limit (and agree about private communications), but I don’t think it’s a good *first* step for reducing meeting length. The non-business items at the beginning of many meetings are a better opportunity to reduce council’s time at the table that wouldn’t detract from local government and citizen participation.

    It’s refreshing to read Coco Siewert’s opinion on deliberation. Finally maybe the rationalizations will end.

  6. June 16, 2013 at 11:22 am | permalink

    I agree with you (3) in part, but there are more pieces to public comment than only communication with an individual councilmember. One purpose is speaking to the public at large, not just to the council. It makes for a public podium that is available no other way. Another is speaking to the entire council to persuade on some specific points when a substantial issue is before the council – in essence, gaining a place at the table, if only briefly.

    Our beleaguered councilmembers have long packets, many communications, and busy lives. Even the most conscientious will have trouble reading all messages sent to them. Some are simply not likely to be available for a chat. Also, because the council regrettably has a practice of adding important items to the agenda at a late hour, sometimes citizens have to scramble to be responsive.

    It is unfortunate that some individuals overuse or one could say abuse this opportunity to participate in our democratic process. One or two people can really clutter up the agenda with showboating and self-indulgence. It leaves council up a (pear) tree at times. But I hope that the answer will not be to cut out meaningful public participation.

  7. June 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm | permalink

    Re: “The non-business items at the beginning of many meetings are a better opportunity to reduce council’s time at the table that wouldn’t detract from local government and citizen participation.”

    By “non-business items,” I think you mean the mayoral proclamations and various and sundry awards. E.g., the June 3 meeting featured historic district commission awards; next Monday’s meeting will feature the Golden Paintbrush awards. At most meetings there are various proclamations – honoring volunteers in the city parks; declaring XYZ Awareness Day/Month in Ann Arbor and the like.

    At the June 13 rules committee meeting, there was some discussion of moving those items to the council work sessions. However, the consensus was that work sessions do not have sufficient “pomp” attached to them to afford these items the attention they deserve.

    I think opinions might diverge on the question of how important the imprimatur is of the physical presentation of such awards in front of the city council.

    But I think it’d be worth exploring the idea of hosting receptions or other events dedicated specifically to highlighting those people – instead of using council meetings as that occasion. Maybe each month a park volunteer is honored with a proclamation, but they’re physically presented annually on A2 Downtown Blooms Day, in a park as part of the schedule of events. Or the Golden Paintbrush awards could be presented at a reception, with fancy snacks and drinks, in the lobby of the Justice Center under the public art hanging from the ceiling.

    I don’t think the reduction from three to two minutes is the end of the world. Nor do I think it’s going to make much positive difference. Councilmembers are also taking a reduction – from 5 to 3 minutes and from 3 to 2 minutes for each turn – so there’s a sense of fairness to that.

    But it’s the “frequent flyer” rule that I think deserves more scrutiny than the time limits per se. We’re tasking the city clerk with: monitoring who spoke at the previous meeting; and sorting out who’s planning to speak on what topic with limits of 8 and 2 for action items and non-action items respectively. Let’s think about why there’s a need to reserve time and to limit this time in any way at all. Presumably, it’s because we fear the “citizens filibuster” that could result at the start of any meeting, if speech were not restricted in some way.

    But about this reserved time, I say: Screwit. Maybe people could be encouraged to sign up in advance as a courtesy, but don’t require it. Don’t restrict it by topic or by speech at previous meetings. The one rule would be that if there’s a public hearing on that topic, you can’t use public comment time – instead you’d have to wait until the public hearing on that topic. So, if the townsfolk are restless and 80 people show up to speak, then with three minutes apiece that’s four hours worth of public commentary and it’s now 11 p.m. and OMG! So what? You recess the meeting, and resume the it the following Monday – having already completed the public commentary.

    Besides, if councilmembers are actually using their work sessions to deliberate and citizens can weigh in at work sessions as well, perhaps the specter of a citizens filibuster at a regular meeting will not loom so large.

    A different approach, which is used by the AAPS board of trustees, is to set a fixed amount of time for public comment. The more folks who sign up, the less time each gets. Based on an attorney general opinion from the late 1970s, you can’t apply such a scheme in a manner that would prohibit someone from speaking at all – on pain of violating Michigan’s Open Meetings Act. But the basic approach of setting a block of time, and wedging all comers into it, seems to be legal, and makes more sense to me than creating additional layers of rules on top of the reservation procedure. We can optimize the hell out of the reservation procedure, but I think we should stop and ask: Why are we requiring people to reserve speaking slots in the first place?

    Local government should be simple. If it takes more than a sentence to explain to a newcomer in town how they can address the city council at one of its meetings, I think we’re doing it wrong.

  8. By Steve Bean
    June 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm | permalink

    @7: “By ‘non-business items,’ I think you mean the mayoral proclamations and various and sundry awards.”

    Yes, and I like your ideas for alternative recognition venues/activities. I’m sure there are others that would work (better) as well.

    “Councilmembers are also taking a reduction – from 5 to 3 minutes and from 3 to 2 minutes for each turn – so there’s a sense of fairness to that.”

    Fairness is no one’s concern, afaik, and it’s apples and oranges in this case. I note that only because I think we agree that the overriding concern is that citizens have input into council deliberations and I would rather not distract from that. The reduction in council time doesn’t increase my confidence that they are on the right track.

    And given that, as well as this:

    “I think opinions might diverge on the question of how important the imprimatur is of the physical presentation of such awards in front of the city council.”

    Let’s not shy away from an open discussion of those opinions. Otherwise we’re not really examining and improving our government, we’re “handling a problem”.

  9. June 16, 2013 at 3:30 pm | permalink

    Having a robust public process can be mighty inconvenient at times.

  10. By Linda Diane Feldt
    June 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm | permalink

    There are many options for having input, and they would ideally vary depending on your desired outcome. If I want to get something done, or be really heard, I find out who would best champion my cause or listen to my concern, and start outside of a meeting. Meetings are not generally productive places. My council representatives are just that – my representative – and I expect that level of response from them. I am rarely disappointed. Many years ago, when she was still a republican, Marcia Higgins took up an issue I was working with regarding regulation of massage therapy. She guided us through the process, spoke up for us, and successfully stopped some very repressive actions on the part of the police and proposed to city council. She was not my representative but she worked well with a city wide group. We were lucky to have her support.
    I have often sent letters to the whole council, when it is relevant, but find it mostly helpful to start with one.
    My point – a planned thoughtful approach is often the most effective to get things done. Sometimes demonstrations and filibusters are required. But if they are a regular part of the process, something is broken.
    Public speaking time is essential to the democratic process. But we can certainly make a few changes that make it less painful.
    Going from three to two minutes of speaking time is very significant if you consider the cumulative time of everyone listening. That’s at least a dozen to start – city council members, mayor, and city administrator, lawyer, etc. Adds up to 12 minutes. Then press, audience members. Anyone watching on TV. A couple hundred. Now we are talking about saving collective HOURS saved by that one minute. Multiply by 10-20 speakers and it is even more significant.

    If an item comes up on the agenda at the last minute – requiring a quick public commentary rather than a letter in advance – that is bad process. Everyone needs advance notice and it shouldn’t be allowed except under certain emergencies. It is just a bad way to do business, at best, and a certain way to circumvent an open democratic process at worst.

  11. By James Jefferson
    June 16, 2013 at 4:39 pm | permalink

    Three minutes is enought time to make your point, but two is barely enough. I see these rules changes as an attempt to quash public participation in city affairs. Not surprising considering the makeup of the rules committee. I am frustrated as the next guy that Mr. Partridge takes one of the ten slots every week, but that is his right. Shaving a minute off everyones time is not the right solution. If anything, the public needs more time and access to the council, and to the public speaking opportunity the public hearings provide.

  12. By James D'Amour
    June 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm | permalink

    Agreed totally with Mr. Jefferson on this. Maybe you need that extra minute to illustrate an issue. It may be exhausting to go through marathon session after marathon session with long public hearings, but if you have even dozens of individuals showing up at an meeting protesting a potential action, council needs to ask what it is doing wrong (of course, the current council voting majority isn’t above “recruiting” individuals themselves to speak at public meetings now and then). So one or two gadflies show every meeting? Big deal. Councilpeople, you’re big boys and girls. Deal with it. Don’t like it, well you can always choose not to run again or if it’s so crushing for you, right now, resign. And yes, city government needs to be even MORE accessible, not less.

  13. By Steve Bean
    June 16, 2013 at 7:51 pm | permalink

    @10: Framing reduced comment time in terms of time saved presumes that the comments have no value. If there’s no public outcry to limit comment time per speaker, I’d think that participatory democracy (PD) is functioning well enough. Especially so if there’s also no outcry to increase the allotted time. Attempts to shorten it absent an outcry could have the appearance of that no-value presumption and of a generalization being applied that would decrease the quality of PD. In other words, where’s the specific evidence that three-minute slots are the problem?

  14. By Libby Hunter
    June 16, 2013 at 8:09 pm | permalink

    I’m with you, James and James. (#’s11 & 12). (And Jack, Mark, and Vivienne) I spent many years in New England where the towns and villages know all about robust public processs!


  15. June 16, 2013 at 11:02 pm | permalink

    Is this the result of Tom Partridge’s tendency to sign up for multiple slots and talk for the whole time allotted? Or have there been other “frequent fliers”?

  16. By Mark Koroi
    June 17, 2013 at 12:04 am | permalink

    Other persons who could be labeled “frequent flyers”:

    (1)Lily Au: Homeless advocate who is present at almost all City Council meetings (even if not addressing City council.

    (2)Alan & Odile Haber: Low cost housing and warmth center advocates.

    (3)Blaine Coleman: immigration attorney and pro-Palestine advocate who was once led out of City Council chambers backwards by his collar by an AAPD officer after the Mayor was angered about a placard he was displaying – although his appearances have been less frequent lately.

    (4)Henry Herskovitz: pro-Palestinian activist who appears semi-often to address topics of interest in the Middle East.

  17. By Alan Goldsmith
    June 17, 2013 at 8:42 am | permalink

    Passing these changes would be a very clear message to the citizens of Ann Arbor: Shut Up, We Want To Hear Less Of What You Have To Say. Anyone who votes to for passage is sending that message, regardless of any sugar coating they try to give it as making the meetings more effective. The fact it’s painful for some elected official is just too bad.

  18. June 17, 2013 at 10:44 am | permalink

    Re (16) Well, Mark, I guess you and I could be labeled “frequent commenters”. Maybe we should be put on a ration.

    I don’t think that any of the individuals you name should be labeled in this way. None of them speak at every opportunity, though they are passionate about causes and are entitled to express that. (OK, Blaine Coleman used to be a phenomenon, but that is mostly in the past.) The Habers, in particular, often have very cogent points to make about the specific issue under discussion at the moment. And since when does being “present at every meeting” constitute an annoyance?

    Mr. Partridge, whom I was hesitant to name, is a special case. He appears at most public bodies, not just the Council. It appears to be a personal issue with him, though he generally speaks to broad themes of social equity and societal support for the less fortunate. He became very agitated when he arrived at the recent AATA board retreat and learned that there was no public comment time scheduled. He interrupted the discussion several times to insist that he be allowed to speak.

    I would hope that we are not changing rules just to deal with that one individual. That already happened at the Board of Commissioners some years ago. This too shall pass. Keep the long view.

  19. June 17, 2013 at 10:53 am | permalink

    Re: “He became very agitated when he arrived at the recent AATA board retreat and learned that there was no public comment time scheduled.”

    Actually, he was upset because the public time that was scheduled came at the end of the retreat, and he didn’t want to wait until that scheduled time.

  20. June 17, 2013 at 11:50 am | permalink

    The proposal to reduce the allowable speaking time at Council meetings seems ill considered.

    If the reduced speaking allotment is meant to address how long these meeting last, it will be ineffective. Reducing the initial 10 speaking opportunities by one minute each will have little impact on how long a meeting lasts. If the Council changed its habit of starting its meetings 10 to 12 minutes late, an equal impact could be achieved.

    If the reduction in speaking time for public hearings is meant to address the perception that residents are conducting a constructive filibuster, that too will be ineffective. If a group can organize enough speakers at 3 minutes each to prolong a meeting, it can also organize a larger group of speakers with only 2 minutes each to accomplish the same goal.

    If the reduced speaking time is to limit how much time any one individual can speak at each meeting, the proposal will have a minor impact on the total duration of a meeting.

    If members of Council are growing weary of listening to the public, perhaps it is time to let some one else serve on Council. Free speech encompasses listening to those with whom you disagree or for any other reason do not wish to hear from. It is small price for democracy.

  21. June 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm | permalink

    Re (19) to be most accurate, I should have said that he was unhappy that no public time was scheduled at the beginning of the meeting. We have usually been accustomed to time before and after most meetings. He then interrupted a couple of times, including a claim of accommodation (for disability). The staff moved him closer to the table so that he could hear and see better, but that didn’t appear to mollify him very much.

    He had a point. The public time at the end came after a break. I wonder how many people came back to the table. I left and didn’t wait to find out.

    Re (20) It would help if Council agendas were arranged so that only one public hearing of substance were expected per one meeting. I myself was so exhausted after the PH on 413 E. Huron that I left rather than speak at the DDA public hearing afterwards. The councilmembers didn’t enjoy that luxury.

  22. By Peter Nagourney
    June 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm | permalink

    Why are multiple citizens speaking about a topic of great concern to them considered a citizen filibuster, and not recognized as participatory democracy? Is efficiency of meetings a more important goal than effectiveness of governance? City Council is elected to represent the interests of Ann Arbor citizens; discouraging participation and limiting citizen and input are not features of a democratic organization.

  23. June 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm | permalink

    My concern is what Vivienne brings up…changing the rules for one individual. That gives that person way too much power; however, I don’t know what else to do regarding this one individual in question. Although I will again echo what Vivienne says in that this too shall pass…he has shown up at different meetings I’ve been at and then sort of faded away. (In his defense, he does have a few good ideas but they are sadly buried in the other stuff)

    I think I would rather see quantity of times you can sign up per meeting limited rather than shortening the length of time you can speak per turn. Then again I can talk for hours at a time and at any time of day or night (as we found out in the sorority house back in the day when I would run into someone at 3am and want to chat)!!!

  24. June 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm | permalink

    About 30 years ago an emotionally challenged person named Paul Jensen filed petitions to run for a bunch of offices. The City raised the number of signatures required to run for mayor/Council as a result.

  25. June 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm | permalink

    Re: Paul Jensen and 30 years ago.

    That’s an opportunity to highlight the Ann Arbor District Library’s Old News digitization effort. Here’s one of several articles that a search on “Paul Jensen” turned up: [link] He’s described in the article as a “chronic candidate.” Also fun: photo of Ed Surovell from that era. And for the inside-baseball tie-in: Surovell now serves on the AADL board.

  26. By Rod Johnson
    June 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm | permalink

    Emotionally challenged? I thought he was just a Libertarian. :-|

    It was nice to see Ann Marie Coleman again in those pictures. She had married me not long before. Does anyone know what happened to her?

  27. June 17, 2013 at 6:20 pm | permalink

    From the School of the Americas web site:

    Don Coleman is a co-pastor with his wife, Ann Marie, at University Church in Chicago. University Church is a member of two denominations: the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Don and Ann Marie came to University Church and Chicago in September 1, 1991. University Church played a pivotal role in the Sanctuary Movement in the early 80s. Virgilio Vicente and Isabel Canu and their family came to University Church from Guatemala as part of the movement. Virgilio’s parents were killed when their village Saq Ja was razed by the Guatemalan military trained by the School of the Americas.

    His decision to cross the line at Ft Benning is not unrelated to this congregational history.

    Don has been part of several delegations to Central America including trips to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and southern Mexico (Chiapas). These trips outside the country have helped provide Don with a critical perspective on US foreign policies. He is a member of the Illinois Mayan Ministries of the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ.

    Ann Marie and Don were co-directors of the Guild House Campus Ministry at the University of Michigan for sixteen years. He was a campus minister at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas (1968-75) and began his ministry serving two rural churches in Springville and Payson, Utah (1963-68).

    Don was born in Provo, Utah June 1, 1937, attended Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah, and graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1963.

    On Monday, January 29 – 2007, Don Coleman was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison, he reported toChicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on April 17, 2007. He was released on June 14, 2007

  28. By Rod Johnson
    June 17, 2013 at 8:01 pm | permalink

    That’s great, thanks! Looks like Don and Ann Marie are no longer pastors at UCC, but it’s good to know where they’ve been.

  29. June 18, 2013 at 8:03 am | permalink

    The in-progress report of the June 17 council meeting highlights a problem with this policy. The Pizza in the Park folks turned out in a group to address the council on a specific issue (a petition) that was not on the agenda. This would be annoying on an ongoing basis but for a one-time request for attention, seems appropriate. As I understand, that would not be permitted under proposed rules.

  30. By Steve Bean
    June 18, 2013 at 8:44 am | permalink

    @29: “This would be annoying on an ongoing basis…”

    Or it wouldn’t, depending on what’s going on between the ears that hear it and behind the eyes that see it.

  31. June 18, 2013 at 9:21 am | permalink

    Well, it would be annoying for any group to occupy most of the speaking slots on an ongoing basis. I wasn’t referring to the subject matter but to the domination of the public forum. I didn’t clarify that they took 8 of the 10 spots. You’d have had to read the other story.

  32. June 18, 2013 at 6:08 pm | permalink

    How about this: you get time at the beginning or end AND one “public hearing” unless you file a written request for more time (or some other stipulation) stating a VALID reason that is ON TOPIC. Or we just get a sergeant of arms to start kicking booty.

  33. By Mark Koroi
    June 18, 2013 at 6:59 pm | permalink

    @Sabra Briere:

    Your qoute is NOT from the “School of the Americas” website – but rather the “School of Americas Watch” website. The latter group is a critic of the School of the Americas.

    The School of the Americas has been criticized by leftist activists in the U.S. – Chuck Warpehoski’s ICPJ has studied them.

    The School of the Americas, headquartered at Ft. Benning in Georgia, has trained Latin American military and paramilitary forces to help them to fight anti-government forces. Roberto D’Aubuission, an El Salvadoran military intelligence officer who later became a prominent anti-communist politician in that nation, received training at the School of the Americas. Critics have contended that the school instructed trainees that became torturers and death squad members. Proponents have credited the school with teaching effective counter-insurgency tactics against Communist guerillas.