Mayor Rogers is absolutely correct that this oral communications proposal tonight is in fact an extension of the amount of comment time that is now available to the public.
The problem with this idea though — which he doesn’t mention — is that if the council restricts their new three-minute, on-topic comment time to only one opportunity per night, it effectively tells the residents that they have to pick and choose the ONE topic that they are allowed to present to the council directly.
Unfortunately, this limitation in the rules is an actual restriction on the content of the speakers’ remarks, or their addressing of grievances. You only get one shot a night guys and so take your pick.
That’s wrong. This proposed new rule could also could easily generate bizarre situations where scads of boosters (or whomever) could come down and directly lobby the council on behalf of a certain agenda item, but any opposition present has already shot its wad on another important topic from the same agenda — and all because the city council in October of 2017 forced them to choose one topic or the other. Unfair advantages there, anyone?
So, while the idea of allowing speakers to directly address the council on each reported agenda item is a great idea (a la Glendale), there’s no good reason to force anyone to have to restrict their content to only one specific item per night.
The courts might even view this as an illegal restriction on speaker content and city issues, especially if it results in an imbalance of views and lobbying efforts on council night.
A member of the public can only directly talk about one thing per night? Someday the courts might ask, “Why?”
Rogers is also totally correct about the courts allowing public agencies limited oral communications times (far less than Burbank), but what he leaves out again is that they do not tolerate restrictions on speaker content regarding city issues. This “one agenda topic only, guys” could be the legal problem for Burbank here, not time allotments.
And again, why restrict it in this way, if that’s the official plan? The council wants to hear specific agenda-item comments, right?
That’s why they’re making the change, no? To solicit specific on-the-fly views?
So why limit people.