Committee recommends small open forum changesPublished 1:44pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Fergus Falls city council could make a couple of changes to its open forum policy at its Sept. 7 meeting, but if it does, the changes will be small.
At the Wednesday morning meeting of the city’s finance, personnel and development committee, Mayor Hal Leland presented an updated open forum policy to the committee. The council periodically reviews the policy and makes changes as it sees fit.
“(The updated policy) makes it clearer,” said Leland. “It makes more readable and easy to understand.”
The proposed policy was essentially the same as the council’s current policy, with three main changes: the new policy made official the generally recognized 3 to 5 minute time limit, it restricted people in the open forum to talking about one issue per open forum request, and it mandated that open forum speakers not “make personal attacks or … voice grievances regarding the Mayor, Council, Staff or any other person or business.”
However, all four council members on the committee expressed reservations about at least some of the changes, particularly the restriction to one topic.
“I feel like we’re trying to micromanage people coming before the council, and I’m not comfortable with that,” said JoEllen Thacker. “I don’t know that there was a lot of consensus for changing (the policy) any further.”
Multiple committee members also didn’t like that the new policy prevented the voicing of grievances, and they were generally in agreement that the mayor is able to rein in forum speakers who stray from topic to topic too much. However, they liked the idea of making the unstated time limit official at 5 minutes, with the caveat that the mayor can increase the time limit as the subject permits.
Ultimately, the committee unanimously recommended to the council that the current policy be amended to forbid personal attacks and to set the time limit for an open forum item at 5 minutes.Tags: city council, committee meeting