Ann Arbor Council Delays New Rules

The Ann Arbor city council has again delayed the adoption of amendments to its own rules. The council’s action to postpone the changes to its rules until Sept. 3 came at its July 15, 2013 meeting.

Highlights of the proposed rules changes include adding public commentary to council work sessions. But on the original proposal, public speaking time would be reduced from three minutes to two minutes across all types of public speaking – general commentary, public hearings, and reserved time. During the July 15 meeting, the council agreed to keep the public speaking time at three minutes.

The council then displayed a clear lack of consensus on how to deal with other proposed changes. Prompting a great deal of discussion was a “frequent flyer” rule that would prevent people from signing up for reserved time at the start of a meeting two meetings in a row.

Also scrutinized was a change to the total time that each councilmember can speak on an item of debate. The proposal was to reduce that time from eight minutes to five minutes. In more detail, the two turns they get per item would be reduced from five to three minutes and from three to two minutes.

Changes that appeared to have some consensus included one that would put nominations and appointments to boards and commissions at the start of the agenda, before the council’s voting business, instead of after all the items. The new rules would also explicitly prohibit the use of mobile devices for texting or phoning at the council table.

For previous Chronicle coverage on these proposed changes, see “Council Mulls Speaking Rule Changes.”

The council had postponed a vote from its previous meeting, on July 1, 2013, due to the absence of Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Margie Teall (Ward 4) – who were described by council rules committee chair Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) as wanting to take part in the conversation. The council had also postponed the item at its June 17, 2013 meeting.

The rules committee is supposed to meet to consider the range of input provided during the July 15 meeting and possibly bring back new recommendations to the Sept. 3 meeting.

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]