The Palm Coast City Council is about to put a little more priority on public participation at the council’s meetings.
At the moment, members of the public may address the council during decision meetings, on specific items as those items are up for a vote, and again toward the end of the meeting when anyone may address the council on any matter not on the agenda. At workshops, the public may address the council only at the end of the meeting, and only if it has something to do with the agenda just dealt with.
That’s too restrictive, council members believe. And it’s led to situations where members of the public have sat through very long sessions, hours long at times, just to have their three minutes.
Starting later this month or in early September, the council will devote the beginning of every decision meeting or workshop (when the council doesn’t vote on anything) to a public comment segment, and for up to half an hour, if necessary. Past the 30-minute mark, people will have to wait until the end of a meeting to have their turn–assuming that many people wish to address the council. That happens, but it’s very rare. It’s more common that people focused on one particular issue the council is voting on will take up big chunks of time to have their say, but that’s usually accommodated as part of the regular agenda.
One other change: the once-a-month meeting scheduled at 6:30 p.m. will start instead at 6 p.m.–with public participation. If only a few people address the council, the panel will then move on to the rest of its agenda immediately.
The council was about to vote on one such change this morning, but it was limited to just the 6:30 p.m. meeting, and did not address the three other meetings held each month. Council member Steven Nobile had proposed broadening time segments for public participation, but at all meetings, not just the evening one.
The change must be accomplished by ordinance, with a formal vote. Since the ordinance had to be rewritten, City Attorney Bill Reischmann recommended tabling the matter until later this month. The council agreed.
That proposal would have created a public comment period from 6 to 6:30 p.m. and not started the evening meeting’s agenda until 6:30, even if only one or two people were to address the council. “I’d hate for us to sit here 25 minutes and take a break,” Mayor Milissa Holland said, preferring the comment period to lead into the agenda. “We don’t need to overcomplicate this, let’;s move public comment to the beginning and to the end.”
Public participation can be fickle. Local government meetings are generally poorly attended, except when a particular issue draws out people who want to be heard. Palm Coast is no exception. Aside from two or three gadflies who attend meetings religiously, and address the council almost every time, other voices are heard more sporadically, especially at workshops, where the bulk of the council’s work gets done and where council members more earnestly engage in debate.
Wow – what a concept – spending the taxpayers money and NOW they want more participation – just too much – what about asking those who pay their taxes about how the money should be spend to better the community instead of all of the “pet” projects ….
I felt was unfair that we were not allowed our 3 minutes comment at the end of that meeting were Landon’s fate was discussed. The council took about two hours of discussion but at the end I am glad that they did not vote to fire him as there is so far that we now, No Justified Cause. I rather keep till his retirement a manager that may not satisfy all of us as we may have expected but is one we know, and better that one unknown.
The work of Landon I believe, is what keeps Palm Coast beautiful and complete with sport, arts and fun events that the community enjoys. We all gain from a smooth and amiable transition into a new manager in two years than a feisty worrisome termination that will not look so bright in our city archives while looking for Landon’s replacement. Lets do not forget Landon’s and our City Financial Department several awards earned under his tenure.
Our council will improve its image with us, if lets us the use of our 3 minutes comments on any meeting.
public participation, why they don’t listen.
Yours truly says
@resident WELL SAID!!!
Agree. I attended quite a few meetings over several years and it was mostly the same faces in the gallery. The same few mostly elderly people would make almost the comments each time! It would be ideal if more citizens attended. Oh, those meetings are boring, so boring.
Actually the news media, both Flagerlive and Palm Coast Observer can act as a conduit on this idea.
This idea is not new. What is important is follow-up as to what happened to such idea after it was brought up, what were the barriers with regards to its implementation, who opposed such idea, what better idea was presented ? One of the definitions of frustration is – A serious and doable idea that was totally ignored or appeared to be heard but allowed to die and not taken seriously.