Councilor Rolfing & Mayor Huether are planning changes to public input

censor

The key word here is ‘planning’. I warned councilor Rolfing last night in public input that he should be cautious about moving forward on changes because he would have a big fight on his hands.

He supposedly cooked up his proposal in the top secret operations committee meeting in the basement of Carnegie on Tuesday. I am unclear what is all in the proposal, but I heard it involves ‘comment cards’.

The plan is to have each commenter sign in with a comment card and write down the topic they choose to speak about. Then the mayor or Rolfing would sort through the cards and pick the commenters they wish to speak by calling them forward.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

While I am not opposed to signing a sheet to say I will comment (it’s good for the clerk to have the correct spelling of the commenter’s name for the minutes and the record) I am not in favor of being called up like I am in 3rd grade speech class.

Picking and choosing the commenters is a blatant disregard for the spirit of free speech and the 1st Amendment. Elected officials are in place to serve us, not the other way around. I often say if they have a problem with that arrangement, do us all a favor and resign.

As I have reminded the mayor and council in the past, if public input is disruptive or offensive, the commenter can be gaveled at that time and asked to stop or even leave. The chair has that power and I agree with that procedure. Some people do get out of control and can be frivolous.

But picking and choosing who can comment and about what is favoritism and goes against transparency and open government as a whole. Something the mayor absolutely hates with a passion.

I know that some other folks in the media are aware of the proposal and won’t stand for it either.

Like I told Rolfing last night, I welcome the debate about changing public input, bring it on, because you are going to lose, and lose big time, and in the process you are going to look very foolish, if you don’t already.



6 comments ↓

#1 The D@ily Spin on 07.21.16 at 7:07 am

If a councilor can’t hear us, we can’t speak for him at the polls. The Argus has come around recognizing the city is not democracy. KDLT is showing signs of doing their job informing the public so we can preserve our freedom.

There’s grounds here for a petition and vote to have public comment remain free speech without forms of repression. Rolfing will be a good effigy for demonstrations.

I’m retired now with time for petition drives. How about a $1,000 jail intake/booking fee? There’s been false arrests the mayor uses against dissenters/vagrants. How about a petition upholding the constitution regarding citations? Only one per offense and a mandatory hearing with 5 directors.

#2 The D@ily Spin on 07.21.16 at 7:24 am

Home Rule Charter could work if we indirectly take away the mayor’s power. I can’t respect a mayor whose fame is because he made a speech in 6th grade and doesn’t attend church but often plays the Jesus card.

#3 Bruce on 07.21.16 at 8:04 am

I will likely oppose all mandatory efforts being looked by the Council leadership, mayor and the clerk. If there is a sheet put by door to assist with spelling wonderful. In the past I have seen Council staff go up to a speaker to get proper spelling. In the past, I have received calls from staff to see if I know who spoke or how to spell.

We should not make if more traumatic to the speakers. It is difficult for most people to get up there, feeling the current leadership’s contempt and still speak to your elected officials.

We know many of them do not answer their phones or return emails so this is the only time the issue might see the light of day.

Efficiency in democracy will never happen and still retain the peoples access to power.

#4 cr on 07.21.16 at 3:52 pm

Sign-up sheets for public input at City Council meetings are not a new thing. But in the past, they were not used in the way that is possibly being proposed.

The first time I gave public input at a City Council meeting was in 2006.

At that time, there was a sign-in sheet for those who wanted to give public input on the podium which sits just inside the door to the council chambers.

There was an occasion when public input had gone on for some time and the mayor decided to cut it off. I had not given my input yet.

Whenever I give public input I put a lot of time into researching and preparing my remarks. I pointed out that I had followed protocol and signed in when I arrived. Because of that I insisted that I be able to give my input and the mayor (Huether) did agree.

#5 i12doit on 07.22.16 at 1:06 am

WOW. Limit public input? If that isn’t a control issue, nothing is. Get real Mike and understand many people just don’t like your politics.

#6 Bruce on 07.22.16 at 10:35 am

City Council meetings are the only place where people can express their feelings to our local elected officials. We have some Council members who actually listen to the public. Many of them including the mayor rarely listen to anything the people say. There are misunderstandings because the people on the dais prefer to tune-out the pleas of their citizens to do an action or consider a point.

Those of us who are up there know this and never expect several of them to pay attention to us.

An interesting side to public input, let’s say a person was to give a public input about a subject and it leads to a court case. The mayor would never be able to swear in court he knew nothing about the situation because it had never been brought before him. Public Input can become a public notification of a problem. If the mayor chooses to ignore it, it becomes a problem on the witness stand and we know how much our current mayor would rather have a camera up inside of him than pointed at him.

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