As a veteran and former city council member, I'm appalled by the city's attorney, the mayor, and the city administrator's attempt to limit public speaking and input into the process of city governance. The city attorney stated his changes to the city code were unsolicited and self-initiated ideas that he discussed with, and got support from, the mayor and city administrator; the goal -- imposing efficiency over transparency.
I understand that under the proposed 3-reading rule change, the public would give up 66% of its speaking opportunity because the public would only be allowed to speak at 2nd reading; and that's not guaranteed, because the mayor is being granted absolute authority to decide if and when the public can speak.
Proposing that citizens go through their council representatives, instead of speaking for themselves, and being denied the right to pull items from the council's consent agenda, which the city administrator controls, while also requiring five councilmembers to concur in the removal of any items for discussion, is the ultimate insult, not only to the public but to elected councilmembers who should have an unimpeded right of removal.
As someone who fought with others to protect the rights and freedoms of this great country, I believe this is really bad/misguided policy. It's a real slap in the face to citizens who actively take an interest in, or have legitimate issues that need to be heard by the city council.
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Having served on the city council for many years and watching the actions of the past, as well as current administrations, I've seen how Ward representation varies across the city. I've witnessed and learned firsthand that the voice of the people is often best delivered by, and most passionately by those most affected.
Although perhaps well-intentioned, these proposed amendments are unwarranted and ill-advised. Don't be fooled, taking away the public's right to speak and the rights of duly elected city councilmembers, while putting more authority in the hands of the mayor and his administrator will be a disaster for the community. Councilmembers, please vote against making these changes.