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City Council Discourages Public Comment

I am concerned about a proposed change regarding City Council meetings. Currently, people wishing to address the Council on items not on the agenda may address the council (for 2 minutes each) at the 6 PM start of the evening’s agenda. The Council has voted to move the open comment period back to the very end of the agenda-which is sometimes very late at night, and discourages people from bringing their issues before the elected body that is supposed to represent them. This action is directly targeted against Safe Ground’s homeless activists who have been speaking before the Council every week about the need for Safe Ground and yet another attempt to disenfranchise Safe Ground’s homeless activists, and others with little power. It will impact all organizations and citizens who also use the public comment period to raise timely issues with the Council, and awareness about their concerns.

I’ve had the opportunity to watch as the public addresses the Council. It is truly moving to hear ordinary people speak up for themselves. Some are articulate; some are visibly nervous; each has a point to make. It is a pure form of democracy in action to be cherished. Yet the City Council’s action shows their lack of respect for their constituents. The amount of time that Public Comment takes is not long – usually well under 20 minutes.

To their credit, Mayor Johnson and Councilmembers Kevin McCarty and Ray Tretheway voted against this change. Steve Cohn was absent so did not vote. Councilmembers Waters, Pannell, Sheedy, Fong and Hammond unfortunately did vote for this change.

The Sacramento Bee’s editorial opposing the change is here: City Council Plays Meeting Games

I am asking as many individuals and groups as I can get to turn out next Tuesday evening, August 24th at 6pm at City Hall and express their opposition to the change. If you can make it to the next meeting, I would appreciate your support for keeping the Public Comment period at the front of the weekly agendas. Your presence alone will show support; you’re also welcome to speak to the Council if you wish.

Thank you for anything you can do! Please forward this information to anyone who you think will attend and/or call or email their City Council representatives and voice their opposition to the change.

Contact info for our City Council representatives is below.

Mayor Kevin Johnson– [email protected]

District 1, Ray Tretheway- [email protected]

District 2, Sandy Sheedy– [email protected]

District 3, Steve Cohn– [email protected]

District 4, Robert King Fong– [email protected]

District 5, Lauren Hammond– [email protected]

District 6, Kevin McCarty– [email protected]

District 7, Robbie Waters– [email protected]

District 8, Bonnie Pannell– [email protected]

(This is an excerpt from an Action Alert email sent out by Joan Burke, the Director of Advocacy at Sacramento Loaves & Fishes)

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