Ann Arbor Council Adopts New Rules

A new set of internal rules has finally been approved by the Ann Arbor city council, three months after they were first presented for consideration. Among the substantive changes that survived that three-month delay included the following: adding an opportunity for public commentary to work sessions; changing the order of the agenda to move nominations and appointments for boards and commissions to a slot earlier in the meeting; and prohibiting the use of personal electronic communications devices while at the council table.

The council’s adoption of the rules changes came at its Sept. 16, 2013 meeting.

A revision to the rules was first presented to the council on June 17, 2013. However, a vote was postponed at that meeting. The revisions were prompted by a desire to allow for public commentary at council work sessions – to eliminate any question about whether councilmembers were engaged in deliberative interactions at those sessions. By allowing for public commentary at work sessions, the council would ensure compliance with Michigan’s Open Meetings Act.

The council’s rules committee also recommended additional changes, including a shortening of the individual speaking turns for public comment as well as shortening of time for councilmembers. Those additional changes were included in the June 17 version of the rules. After again postponing a vote at its July 1, 2013 meeting, the council used its following meeting, on July 15, 2013, to eliminate one of the proposed rule changes – the shortening of public speaking turns. But the council postponed further revisions and a vote until Sept. 3. The council again postponed a vote on Sept. 3, 2013 because the council’s rules committee had not met in the interim.

On Sept. 10, the rules committee did meet, and the consensus appeared to be that no shortening of speaking turns for the public or for councilmembers should be undertaken and that the procedure for reserving public commentary time at the start of the meeting should not be altered.

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]