At the council meeting on January 9th, 2018 I proposed a set of rules for us to follow during our meetings. The council was very supportive of my thoughts. The underlying objectives of these rules are to:
- Have our residents feel welcome and free to participate in the meeting regardless of which side of an issue they are on. Often those with a minority opinion are reticent to speak out for a variety of issues. We want everyone to be able to share their thoughts.
- Encourage civil debate between the council
Here are the rules I covered:
Those attending council meetings who wish to make comments on items that are aligned with an agenda item are encouraged make them following the staff presentation for that item. If they need to leave prior to the agenda item they are welcome to make their comments during the initial comment period.
We will put cards on the podium for commenters to put their contact info on if follow-up is required or requested. We will also provide comment cards at the door for residents to fill out if they do not wish to stand at the podium.
Council members may ask clarifying questions of those making comments but should not interrogate or otherwise be argumentative with the person making a comment.
Those making comments should address their remarks to the chair (the mayor or if the mayor is absent the mayor pro temp). The chair may ask a council or staff member to comment or follow-up.
Discussion between council members should be respectful. It is appropriate to disagree with an idea, even strenuously. Vigorous debate is encouraged. It is inappropriate to make direct personal remarks. It is the duty of the chair to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to speak their peace.
Clapping, booing, standing to show support for someone making comments on an issue under discussion is inappropriate for a couple of reasons. (1) Clapping and standing to show support for a position might intimidate a non-supporter from sharing their perspective with the council -- we want to encourage the expression of all views and (2) council decisions are supposed to be based on information as opposed to public clamor. Note. clapping or standing to show support for individuals who are being recognized for their contribution to the community is very appropriate and encouraged.
I will briefly go over these “rules” at the beginning of each meeting.
Those violating these rules of etiquette will be called out of order.
Let me know if you have any other suggestions or disagree with anything mentioned please let me know.