Open public comment debated at Council meeting
The length of Northfield City Council meetings could almost be considered legendary. During their discussion on Rules of Business, Mayor Graham noted his attempt to shorten them by implementing a rule wherein members can speak only twice on each issue. If there are amendments to motions, and sometimes amendments to amendments they can speak twice on those. Graham said the idea is to allow speaking twice and then a vote. It takes a motion and vote to change how they do things but they could experiment with changes to the format. In fact, the Mayor met with Interim Administrator Linstroth yesterday and they will start experimenting with placing council/mayor reports at the END of the meetings. Another item brought up to “save time” was cutting out some public commenting. Rather than allowing Open Comments on any subject and then opening a comment period for each specific subject, they would only allow 1 open comment period. Peterson White said allowing public comment on each subject is “no longer necessarily the best way for us to be as accessible as possible”. LISTEN TO ALL THE QUOTES BELOW IN THE PODCAST She added that those comments set the tone for each item and that’s “in some ways is contrary to democratic principles…”
She prefers that the Open comment period be moved to the beginning of the meeting. She added that if there’s a subject they think would have more commenters then they could make an exception. She and Nakasian said the meetings are too long. Ludescher then commented that it’s not that they’re (councilors) are spending too much time listening but rather too much time talking. Zweifel said, “I think what we’re talking about is changing the culture….” The public is allowed 2 minutes at the open mic. If a member of the public wanted to comment on multiple subjects presented at the meetings, they would not have the additional opportunity they do now. It’s important to note that the Council is not bound to allow comment at each subject. The public is always invited to call or email our elected officials at any time on any subject. Their contact information is on the City’s website.
Soup and Cycles presents Author James Longhurst
The 3rd annual Soup and Cycles event takes place tomorrow. Bike Northfield’s Betsey Buckheit says,”this time we’re also going to expand the conversation…” Longhurst says the goal of “Bike Battles” is an effort to explain why we’re having such a conflict today in terms of where the bicycle belongs and parking. He adds history to why these debates happen and why they’re “so angry”. In his book he looks at the decisions of cities made in the past. Tomorrow, Longhurst will be talking about the first major bike fad in the 1890’s. The roads, however, were mostly dirt. There were several movements to create financing to pave paths across the country. A lot of this has been forgotten. The Soup and Cycles event begins at 5 o’clock at the UCC. The event will include lots of information, soup and, of course, Professor Longhurst will speak and have his book available.
Click below to listen to the 1-29-16 NEWS podcast with quotes from Councilors: