Council Will Discuss Possible Changes to Meeting Procedures

From a memo attached to the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting agenda for August 12:

1. 2.04(a)This section indicates that regular meetings of the City Council shall be convened no sooner than 7:00pm. As last meeting illustrated, when the City Council does not have material for a Committee of the Whole meeting, the Council may seek to move the regular meeting up to 6:00pm. Accordingly, a revision is suggested, to indicate that the COW or Council meeting shall not start prior to 6:00pm, unless otherwise directed by the Council for a special meeting.

Yes, the council violated its ordinance governing meeting conduct last meeting. But as long as state law — such as Open Meetings Act — is not violated, they can ignore any ordinance they want without penalty, except of course for the hits to their sterling reputations. Council can also review (and change) the rules at any time, which actually isn’t a bad idea for a new council.

3. 2.06(c) This section indicates that no public comment is to be received at a COW meeting. If Council wishes to continue to not permit public comment at COW meetings, it is suggested to revise the language here to reflect that opportunities to speak shall be provided on any item before final action is taken on said item (presumably at a Council meeting). This section should be made consistent with Section 2.12(ad).

In my view, not allowing public comment at CoWs IS in fact a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act (see here and here), with or without final action. But staff have become accustomed to the stacked deck in pitching their ideas without the meddlesome public rounding out the conversation, and I expect they’re pushing to keep things the same.

Will Mayor John “I love me some public input so much I want to marry it” Rey stand up for us? This will be a real test of his campaign promises.

9. 2.12(h)(4) This section indicates that while any Alderman is speaking, other Aldermen shall not engage in private sidebars. This is inconsistent with some current practices. If Council wishes to permit multiple discussions at one time, revision is required.

How about prohibitions on texting, sexting, emailing and gaming?

10. 2.12(h)(6) This section indicates that no Alderman may eat, smoke, or drink anything other than water during a Council meeting. Several Aldermen have expressed a desire to permit consumption of other beverages during Council meetings, and at certain special meetings, the Council has permitted consumption of food. Revision may be desired by Council.

The drinking rule is obsolete. I’m told it’s from back when certain council members were prone to turning their colas into cuba libres and whatnot, and by all accounts it didn’t work.

However, I also think that eating during a public meeting looks undisciplined and sloppy, as does dragging your giant cardboard cup with advertising logo in front of the TV camera. So while I don’t think it’s a good idea to write an ordinance to rein in the bad behavior of one or two individuals, these days it might be necessary to legislate decorum to a certain extent.