Council’s executive committee has rejected a bid by Coun. Andrew Knack to open up participation to you in meetings, by opening up the phone lines. They saw too many things that could go wrong.
“I do have concerns about the potential for disruption, the potential for filibuster,” said Mayor Don Iveson. “While it’s entirely possible that we could come up guidelines to manage that you force the chair into an incredibly difficult position having to cut people off, having to deny people participation, and then the chair is bad cop.”
“There’s phone calls or emails or meetings outside of the council or committee meetings and so there’s lots of ways to have people’s voices heard,” agreed Coun. Michael Oshry. “If something is a really important issue, I would argue for the vast majority of citizens there would be only one or two at the most. To come down to City Hall and spend an afternoon or morning interacting with us directly, is the cost I guess of democracy.”
It was a disappointment for those who wanted a wide open format, like Jason Pisesky of the city’s accessibility committee.
“We don’t have to jump right into the deep end, right off the bat,” he told reporters. “We can take small steps. We can take three to start with, or time limits, but it was clear he (the mayor) had turned his mind to some of those negatives that me and the other speakers hadn’t had a chance to quite consider.”
In the end it was agreed that those with special circumstances could have provisions for participation.
“Those with mobility issues that have problems getting down here, that it’s just not possible for them to get down here, we should be doing something absolutely,” said Coun. Dave Loken. “But people that are able to get here, sometimes you just have to make those arrangements and sacrifices to get here.”
They’ll look the special circumstances guidelines in a future report.