Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Battle Creek Ordinance to Reduce Public Comment Time

Image from here: http://designthefaith.com/2009/deeds-not-words/

(Updated March 3, 2016)

From the City of Battle Creek Agenda: Battle Creek City Commission Meeting, March 1, 2016 at 7:00 PM, (which was cancelled because of a beautiful, wet and heavy snowfall):
Currently, public comment is limited to eleven minutes total, on anything and everything you want to speak about.  You have three minutes to comment on the Consent Agenda, five minutes on Resolutions, and an additional three minutes for General Public Comments.  

My comments usually fall under General Public Comments, and I don't think three minutes has ever been enough time for me.  However...

The above proposed Ordinance will combine Consent Agenda and Resolution comments, (currently eight minutes total), into one - five minute comment period.

What that means is that they want to change total public comment time from eleven minutes, to eight minutes.  That is a 27-percent reduction in the amount of time the City of Battle Creek Commission will allow the public to comment.  Three minutes doesn't sound like a lot, but when it's 27-percent of a total, it is a lot.

Numerous times I've heard them say that they, "welcome public comments."  If that is true, why, then, do they want to reduce public comment time by 27-percent?
"The City Commission Ethics and Meeting Rules Committee met on February 9 and discussed whether to recommend additional revisions to the City Commission Meeting Rules with the goal of furthering the meeting procedure and flow as the business meeting that it is." 
"The consensus is that the five minute time period has proved adequate for citizens to offer their comment as most do not use the entire time period. In addition, very few comment on the consent agenda, so they do not anticipate that these changes will infringe upon public participation."
(My emphasis added)

How can you take away comment time and not infringe upon public participation?  I just don't see the logic in that.

Reducing total public comment time by 27-percent will infringe upon public participation.  Now that statement is logical.

The message I would like to give to the City of Battle Creek City Commissioners is another thing I've heard them say:

"Deeds.  Not words."
You say you value public input, yet want to reduce it?
Please do not pass this Ordinance as it is.
Instead, please increase General Public Comment time to five six minutes, 
where the time is needed.
Thank you for reading ~ May we all, truly, be blessed!

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