Is it fair to relegate public comments to the end of the meeting? Will residents’ voices be stifled?
But Drayman’s move, as imperfect as it may be, is not an attempt to silence the public, nor does it do that.
It’s more, as Drayman said, a “. . . balancing of free speech interests.”
Drayman wanted the residents attending meetings to address specific agenda items to go first, giving them a chance to speak before 10 or 11 p.m. Everyone will still have a chance to speak, he pointed out; he’s just telling the regulars, who speak week after week, to wait until after the city conducts its business before launching into their diatribes.
The change has the potential to better balance the interests of residents who are there to address specific items with the regular activists.
And as letters pour in to the paper, no one seems too worried about the regulars — even the regulars themselves.
So the only lingering concern is the resident who does not come rain or shine to demand change, the one who has a single concern that they would like to bring to the council. Now that person has a wait on their hands.
But hopefully, Drayman’s other plans to shorten meetings will make that less of an issue.
He has removed the weekly commendations and relegated those presentations to once a month.
He has reined in council members as well, making them wait to comment on staff member presentations and oral communications until the end.
All of these things are steps in the right direction.
His approach tries to keep in mind that the primary function of the meetings is conducting city business.