Ann Arbor Council Delays on Rule Changes

The Ann Arbor city council has delayed action on possible changes to its speaking rules, essentially choosing to follow its own existing meta-rule on rules changes – which requires that the council be notified about possible rules changes at one meeting, before taking action at a subsequent meeting. The council is considering changes that would add a period of public commentary to its work sessions, but reduce public speaking time per turn from three minutes to two minutes. [.pdf of draft rules changes] The action that the council took at its June 17, 2013 meeting was to postpone the item until its July 1 meeting.

The procedure for reserving one of the 10 reserved speaking slots at the start of the meeting 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.

Councilmember speaking time is also proposed to be reduced. Councilmembers are allowed two speaking turns per agenda item. Under the current rules, time limits for those speaking turns are five minutes for the first turn and three minutes for the second turn. Under the proposal, those times would be reduced to three minutes and two minutes, respectively.

The proposed addition of an opportunity for public commentary at council work sessions would ensure that councilmembers could freely deliberate toward public policy decisions at those sessions and still conform to Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

The proposed rules changes would move mayoral communications from the end of the meeting to a spot closer to the start of the meeting. That would give nominations to boards and commissions – which are a part of those communications – somewhat greater prominence.

The council will vote on adoption of the rules at its July 1 meeting. [For previous Chronicle coverage, see: "Council Mulls Speaking Rule Changes."]

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]