Second “Public Comments” Period Returns

Residents will now be able to address the City Council at the beginning and near the end of each city council meeting.

On Tuesday, April 7, 2009, the City Council voted 4-0-1 to insert a second “public comments” section. Mayor Pro Tempore Fernando Vizcarra was absent.

The City Council had three options to consider.

One, the City Council could leave the “public comments” section at the end of the agenda. Two, the council could move the “public comments” section to the beginning of the agenda. Or, three, the City Council could have two “public comments” periods, one at the beginning and one near the end of each council agenda.

According to city staff, the city council agenda previously had dedicated two “public comments” periods, but one was eliminated beginning May 2006.

Dan Arrighi, then a city councilman, brought the item back to the city council’s attention in August 2006. Arrighi sought to reinstate the old system with two “public comments” section.

The former City Council did not agree with Arrighi’s suggestion and voted 3-2 to maintain the system with one “public comments” period. Arrighi and then councilwoman Judy Wong both voted in favor of two periods, while current councilman David Capra voted with the majority to have only one period.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, councilman Capra explained that the previous City Council voted to have one “public comments” section because a lot of residents were making repetitive comments, especially as the City Council was debating the “Piazza Las Tunas,” now known as the “Piazza at Temple City” proposal.

Councilman Vincent Yu, who placed the “public comments” item on the agenda, noted there were advantages to having two “public comments” sections. Yu stated that residents would not have to wait until the end of a meeting to voice an opinion.

Yu’s point was echoed by Linda Payne, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Temple City Chamber of Commerce.

Temple City resident Mary Burke, who had urged the previous City Council to keep two “public comments” sections in 2006, stated thoughts about agenda items sometimes occurred as the meeting progressed. Burke added that when the previous City Council removed a section, she felt the council wanted to discourage residents from speaking.

Without much opposition, the City Council, including councilman Capra, voted to add a second section.

Existing restrictions, such as a 20-minute limit per item and a 5-minute speaking limit per person, will remain.

 

This article was written by Randy Shun. It was published in the Temple City Voice on July 10, 2009.

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