Comments on: Column: On Taking Time to Hear it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Tue, 26 Aug 2014 11:33:20 +0000 Re: a maximum time allotment per speaker, yes, definitely.

Re: “a citizens filibuster”, to what end? Doesn’t seem likely at all.

Re: Ruth’s “feast or famine”, I learned somewhere along the way that public speakers can be asked to ‘consolidate’ comments by having everyone stand who is in agreement with a speaker so that each one can be counted and recognized without repeating essentially the same sentiment and extending the session unnecessarily. I successfully (I think) did this at the joint commission public hearing on Argo Pond years back. On the famine side, I suppose there are ways to request, encourage, or facilitate public input if it’s really desired, possibly through some other means.

By: Ruth Kraut Ruth Kraut Tue, 26 Aug 2014 03:31:28 +0000 Per your comment:
“Of course, if everyone who shows up and wants to speak is allowed three minutes, then we could routinely wind up with a citizens filibuster. But suppose we set an upper limit on the total time for public commentary. And suppose everyone who showed up and signed in was allowed 30 minutes divided by the number of people who’d signed up – with the proviso that the minimum time allowed to any speaker was a minute. That type of scheme would be a lawful way to provide for public commentary under Michigan’s Open Meetings Act, according to Attorney General Opinion #5332.”

In fact, that is what the Ann Arbor school board does (although I think there is a maximum length of time that someone can speak if there are not many speakers). Having watched this in action when there is a contentious issue at hand (typically, the budget)–I’m not sure this is the best solution either. With school board public commentary it seems it is often feast or famine: sometimes there are 50 people who want to speak, and other times there is 0, 1, or 2 people who want to address the board.

By: sabra briere sabra briere Tue, 26 Aug 2014 02:42:22 +0000 Re: #3. Thank you, John.

For what it is worth, I arrived late to Council – and the public comment had begun. I did not realize until later that the first speaker waived her speaking time, so did not raise a point of order.

I would like to think I would do object and ensure that each of the 10 speaking spots was used, but admit to being surprised that public comment was moving along so swiftly, and did not question. When Council member Lumm raised the issue, I understood that I’d missed something.

I regret my tardiness.

By: Barbara Levin Bergman Barbara Levin Bergman Sun, 24 Aug 2014 15:48:04 +0000 As a former Washtenaw County Commissioner, I have sat through countless hours of public comment. Some of it inane and some of it right on the spot.

Commission rules have changed through the years of my tenure. There are now only two opportunities to speak at regular commission meetings, the time is limited to 3 minutes and supposedly the comments must reflect the agenda. The latter has been interpreted loosely and decisions tended to be on the side of the speaker.

There has never been a limit on the number of persons who may speak during public comment time or at a public hearing. I believe that this is as it should be. Citizens should have the right to speak before local officials and as a local official, I had an obligation to listen.

It got long. It got boring. It got amusing. Years ago, a union of Washtenaw County employees threw peanuts at the commissioners to symbolize their opinion of benefits proffered during union negotiations. No commissioner was hurt during the pelting, and at least we were nourished during the rest of the many presentations.

If you have time to be an elected public servant, you should have time to listen. I have always valued public comment time as a time we all honor our rights to express our ideas in a public manner.

Boy!!! Am I going to miss the Chronicle!!! Again, many thanks for your years of great journalism.

By: Philip Proefrock Philip Proefrock Sun, 24 Aug 2014 02:17:13 +0000 I was about halfway through this article when, once again, I was struck by how much we’re going ot miss the Chronicle. And, at the same time, this shows just how trying the work must have been over the last 6 years.

By: Jeff Hayner Jeff Hayner Sat, 23 Aug 2014 14:22:27 +0000 BTW – The AAPS School board takes an allotted amount to time, and divides it by the number of speakers – not the best solution when there is a contentious issue, since there are NO public hearings on specific matters before the BOE.

By: Jeff Hayner Jeff Hayner Sat, 23 Aug 2014 14:13:25 +0000 The Israel-divestment crowd has had the mayor upset for a while. Two meetings ago he skipped my name on the public speakers list, even though order is printed in the agenda. I was called, out of order, with the result that my relatively placid remarks about financial matters were bookended between two riled-up protestors, and their oversized posters of bloody children. My right to speak was recognized, but one could say that my words were diminished or lost in the shuffle. Had I not been allowed to speak at all, I can assure you I would have raised my own point of order by disrupting the proceedings, and demanding to speak.

By: Kai Petainen Kai Petainen Sat, 23 Aug 2014 02:30:53 +0000 I agree with CM Teall. She makes a very good point. There is a loophole in the system. Imagine if you knew that there could be some public commentary that you’d like to avoid hearing… one could take a spot at the public comment and then decide if they do or do not want to speak.

I don’t think that’s right to do that, but it sounds possible.

I don’t like how the mayor responded to this. Someone could easily make the shortest speech ever at city council and still make a point. How?

Put your name down on the public commentary and give the topic of ‘Loophole’. Then, when your name is called, even if the Mayor asks you a question… do not answer him! Although some could view this as rude, you would be only following the rules. Then, stand up and walk out to vacate yourself into the bathroom or out to the art outside (don’t go bathroom in the artwork). Wait a few minutes, brush your hair, and then come back. As such, you would make your point about the loophole and it would be the shortest speech ever.

By: John Q. John Q. Sat, 23 Aug 2014 02:23:09 +0000 Well put Dave. I sure wish the Chronicle wasn’t going away. It’s too bad that some combination of aspiring young journalists and professional talent in town couldn’t have helped you two take it from a labor of love into a sustainable operation that left you time for things besides the Chronicle. Best wishes as you move onto the next adventure!

By: John Floyd John Floyd Fri, 22 Aug 2014 21:35:23 +0000 What do we have to do to keep The Chron in business? No one else is calling elected officials on shenanigans. We are being thrown to the wolves.

I supported Sabra Briere for mayor, but am disappointed that she didn’t raise this point. She usually is pretty good about process.