Saturday, June 16, 2012

City Council to consider moving public's voice near start of council meeting

Any follower of the City Council meetings is aware the public weighs in at the end of the evening.  This has often meant a member of the public with an issue or concern signs up one day at 7:00 pm but lands up speaking the next day - as the public's opportunity often doesn't come until past midnight or far later.

All of that is about to change if new council rules are adopted Wednesday night with the public portion being moved near the beginning of the council meeting after ordinances up for final adoption are considered.

A full hour of time is allotted if the measure passes whereby the Council President then may have remaining speakers continue at the end of the agenda as has been the case in the past.

It's a radical step giving the public an opportunity to speak early in the evening.  This measure if passed will give the public opportunity to petition on an agenda item coming much later in the council meeting or any another issue of concern.

The idea behind the move is to give the public a more timely way to communicate directly to their representatives.  As stated below, it also seeks to encourage public participation:


Talking Ed Note: Earlier this year MSV came out in favor of such a move.  While one shouldn't expect the public to take note of this during the summer and see an increase in the public's participation, there should be an impact in the fall.

As stated in February, "The door to hear the public petition their representatives needs to be opened and those doors should be welcoming long before midnight strikes."

Here is the Horse Sense editorial from earlier this year on the subject:
http://www.hobokenhorse.com/2012/02/horse-sense-let-people-be-heard-in-city.html

MSV wishes to thank the council members who have worked on the changes and everyone who will vote in favor of the updated council procedures adding a real significant transparency for the public to participate in Hoboken civic life.

A letter from Council President Ravi Bhalla with his full summary of changes updating the council procedures is available here:
http://www.hobokennj.org/docs/council/respack12/respac-6-20-12.pdf

There's other notable improvements such as the procedure for submitting agenda items, clarification on public members speaking time, and the process for a council member to seek answers on claims.

It's all a significant, positive shift moving Hoboken forward.