City clarifies call to the public
Feb 23, 2013 (The Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
With the Yuma City Council voting Wednesday to move the call to the public to the end of the agenda for future council meetings, the city has offered some clarification on what this means -- and doesn't mean -- to residents.
There are no changes in call to the public other than when during the meeting it will appear on the agenda, said city spokesman Dave Nash. The amount of time permitted to speak does not change, and there is no other change in procedure.
Furthermore, no assumptions or inference should be taken that any individual's opinions are deemed any more or less important to the city, officials say.
"The city of Yuma desires to learn about the needs and wants of our customers and invites residents to present these issues to us," said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson. "We cannot emphasize that enough. We encourage residents to approach us about any issue they have concerning city programs and services."
In addition to call to the public, residents may communicate with council members through emails, letters and phone messages, Wilkinson noted.
The council voted 4-3 in favor of Ordinance O2013-09 to change the order of business for future agendas. Voting in favor of the measure were Councilmen Jerry Stuart, Ed Thomas, Cody Beeson and Paul Johnson. Mayor Al Krieger joined Councilwomen Leslie McClendon and Bobbi Lewis in opposition.
Call to the public provides an opportunity for people to address the council regarding items that are not on that day's meeting agenda. By state law, council members cannot comment on or respond to comments made during call to the public.
It is not an appropriate forum for bringing up issues that have nothing to do with city services or where the city lacks jurisdiction, to launch conspiracy theories or for seeking personal publicity, Nash said.
Call to the public is not required by either state law or the Yuma City Charter. Council has sole discretion to regulate it and may do so by ordinance. In the past, call to the public has been placed toward the end of council meeting agendas. Various other public entities also have call to the public at the conclusion of their other business.
People will still be able to speak regarding an item under consideration on the council's agenda prior to the council taking action on that agenda item.
Those who want to comment on an agenda item or to speak during call to the public are required to fill out a speaker request form prior before the meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.
An example of how call to the public was effectively used in the past was by the neighbors in a subdivision who had issues with the condition of their streets and lack of street lighting that were left over from before they were annexed into the city. By alerting council to the condition of their infrastructure and of promises made by a prior administration, their neighborhood street reconstruction project was accelerated in the city's Capital Improvement Program, and those streets and streetlights have since been built and installed.
Curbside recycling was also an issue that residents periodically brought up during call to the public, and the council's recent decision to add this service was due in part to residents successfully communicating their desire for the service.
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