On June 18th, Mayor Nolan introduced R-14-161, which limits resident speaking time to 2 minutes. Further, it instructs the Governing body members to not respond to the questions of the resident until that resident has finished speaking in his/her entirety. There was a subsequent blog post here.
Overwhelmingly, residents polled were against the time limitation. Some concerns brought up about the resolution included not only the content but the way it was introduced:
- it was not printed as an agenda item made publicly available on our town website previous to the meeting,
- it was not attached on the meeting packet handouts left outside the meeting room for the public to read during the hour the Council was in closed session,
- it was placed on the table next to the public comment sign-in sheet – which many of those attending did not realize was supposed to be part of the agenda.
The resolution in question was pushed through within 15 minutes of the start of the public session with no explanation or comment period. Even at the public comment portion at the end of the meeting when residents verbalized their disagreement of the approved resolution it was basically ignored. (So much for working with the council or having your opinions matter.)
There now is an online petition at Change.org that asks for support not to abolish the ordinance but to amend it to increase the speaking time from 2 min to 4 min as a reasonable alternative to this tactic of retribution by the council.
How does it work? You go to the Change.org page and sign in, name email address and why you agree with amending the existing ordinance.
Each person that signs it a notification goes to the petitioners. In this case its Mayor Nolan, Tim Hill and Carolyn Cummins. On the right hand side it will show recent signatures and below the petition it shows the reasons people are signing.
Why online petitions can work: Governments, companies and individuals normally value their reputations and feel accountable to their neighbors, constituents and customers. When hundreds or even thousands of people raise their voices about an issue they care about, the message is very hard to ignore.
According to Change.org, Successful petitions ask for something very specific, that a decision maker can change. They usually propose a sensible solution to a problem. i.e. a compromise to an existing ordinance asking it to be amended.
If you haven’t already signed, please click here