Council Approves Measure That May Shorten Meetings

Beginning on Oct. 28, City Council meetings could go a lot quicker, thanks to a proposal by Councilor Michael Marchese.

If you have wanted to attend meetings of City Council or watch them from the comfort of your home but don’t want to be kept up past your bedtime, you may be in luck.

At its last meeting on Tuesday, October 15, Council unanimously approved a measure proposed by Councilor Marchese to amend Rule 8 of the City Council by adding a subsection that aims to streamline meeting agendas.

City Council meetings have a reputation for going long into the night. Part of the reason for this is that when an agenda item is raised under new business, all councilors have the right to weigh in on the item, regardless of what action is being requested by the item’s sponsor. The new subsection of the City Council Rules would put restrictions on who is allowed to opine on new business matters.

According to the language of Subsection D, when a new business item is addressed on the agenda, only the Councilor who presented the item is allowed to discuss it, as long as his or her wish is to postpone the item for a future meeting or to move it to a committee to be discussed in greater detail. Most new business items are either postponed or moved to committee, which was one of the main critiques of the old format of discussion.

Another critique was that, when a new business item requested the future presence of a City official, councilors were able to lay out their concerns without the individual or individuals being present. This often resulted in what amounted to a venting session with no real purpose, when the matter would be postponed anyway.

All councilors will still have the ability to weigh in on new business items in the following scenarios: the sponsor is requesting favorable action, the sponsor is referring to a department for further action, the Council Chair believes the action requires more input from Council, or the item is declared an emergency measure.

The new rule will take effect on Oct. 28. ECTV streams all City Council meetings live on its website.

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