Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Just a thought

It has been suggested that City Council rearrange their standard docket in order to allow public comment to come earlier in the meetings. The request for this change has come about principally due to the fact that members of the public were kept waiting for hours before getting their time to address council at the July 19 meeting.

Charges of deliberate delays to discourage the attendees from waiting it out just to unload on Council have been floated from several quarters.

To be fair, there was an unusually large amount of work laid before council that evening:
  • a presentation on the revamped city wide housing inspections initiative
  • some Alcoholic Beverage Control Board matters (remember, besides regular Council responsibilities, Trenton's City Council sits at the local ABC Board as well)
  • an executive session
  • docket review
And that all came before the regular public meeting.

As long as I have been observing Trenton's City Council, they have pared down their regular meeting schedule to just one each in July and August. Ostensibly, this is to provide the opportunity for Council members to enjoy a little down time in the summer.

Faced as they are with an increasing work load and with the added burden of dealing with ABC issues (all liquor licenses are up for annual renewal in June leading to some extended 'business' in July), maybe Council should reconsider the cut back in meetings for July and August.

Surely the long hours of an extended meeting such as occurred on July 19 must be hard on our elected officials.

Certainly, the delays and discussions were frustrating to the members of the public awaiting their turn at the podium.

If there is too much work to get through in one night's meeting, Council should think about not voting to lighten their summer schedule. Instead, they might want to choose to allow adequate time for all of the business in front of them even if it means having to hold two or more meetings during the "dog days."

At the very least, and as one attorney suggested that evening, they could relenquish their ABC duties to a separate, appointed Board.

If allowing adequate time to do fulfill their responsibilities year round isn't to any one's interest, they can always forfeit their $20,000 pay check and seat at the table to someone for whom the sacrifice of an evening or two a month is more of a calling.

Perhaps someone who was in the group waiting for their chance to address the issues of the day.

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