Shorter Council Meetings May Mean More Public Participation

One may have noticed that the first Council meeting of 2020 was shorter than usual. This could have been due in part to a new Council rule limiting who can speak on certain topics.

The Council meeting on Jan. 13, which was the first meeting of the new session, lasted just under an hour, a record for a body that is known to have meetings that run long into the night.

According to recently updated Council rules, only the councilor who presents an item is allowed to discuss it in the meeting if he desires to postpone it or move it into committee. Postponing an item will put it on a future agenda, while moving it to committee will allow it to be discussed in greater detail in a smaller and more focused meeting of the Council. Most new business items fall into these two categories. 

Previously, all Councilors were able to ask questions and give opinions on any agenda item, regardless of what action the sponsor was requesting. This led to long, drawn-out discussions that ultimately served no purpose.

Councilor Michael Marchese originally introduced the change on Oct. 15, which was then approved unanimously by the 10 members of the Council present for the vote. Apparently the Ccouncilor was not alone in thinking that Council meetings could be streamlined. The new subsection went into effect Oct. 28.

At one point during the Jan. 13 Council meeting, Councilor Wayne Matewsky attempted to opine on a new business item but was quickly shut down by the Council President Rosa DiFlorio because he was not one of the original sponsors.

All Councilors still have the ability to weigh in on old business items and on new business items seeking favorable action.

Everett Community Television streams all City Council meetings live on its website, which allows viewers to watch from the comfort of home. However, shorter meetings may mean that more community members are able to attend Council meetings in person and to participate in their city’s government.

Most meetings will not be an hour long, however. Another reason why the first meeting of the year was so short was because there was no old business to attend to. Any old business that is not resolved by the end of the session has to be reintroduced in the new year as new business.

The City Council meets Mondays at 7 p.m. in City Hall and all interested residents are invited to attend.

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