Big Idea: Organize and streamline Prescott Council meetings.
1. 3-minute time limit
2. Sign in to speak
3. Provide information regarding name and address in advance
4. Speak specifically to a particular topic.
Ever been sitting in a Prescott Council meeting when someone from the public gets up to speak? When asked their name, they mumble and those in the audience are left wondering, “Who are they?”
Then they talk. And talk. And talk. Repetitively. If you’re still awake when they’ve finished, you might wish you weren’t. (The specific names of these speakers are being withheld to protect those who are passionate and well-meaning but tend to ramble.)
Those are the sort of issues that may be helped by the new policies for public participation in Council meetings at Prescott City Hall. Newly seated Mayor Greg Mengarelli is not trying to keep people from sharing their opinions and thoughts with the Council. But he is trying to organize it so that the process is more efficient.
Here are the new procedures:
1. A 3 minute timer will be utilized.
2. The timer will be visible to the speaker, so they know when their time is up.
3. Speakers will be asked to fill out a “Call to the Public” request form in advance.
4. The form will become part of the public record of the meeting.
5. Written materials may be provided to the City Clerk in advance.
As City Manager Michael Lamar pointed out, “There’s ways to make this a little more formalized process, but there’s also ways to limit public speech, and that’s not the intent in any way, shape or form.”
Forms will be available as people walk in the door.
Suggestions for speaking within the new procedures:
1. Know the agenda in advance. By law, it must be posted at least 24 hours in advance.
2. When you get up to speak, don’t spend a lot of time chit-chatting. Your minutes will be ticking away.
3. Stay on topic. Actually, that’s the law. If you wander off too far, the City Attorney will rein you back to the subject at hand.
4. Write down what you want to say before getting up to speak. Preferably a day before the meeting.
5. The day of the meeting, review your notes. Edit it down. Read it out loud. Can you do it in 3 minutes?
6. Bring extra documents, charts, photos and give them to the City Clerk in advance. They can be shown on the overhead screen as part of your presentation. (If you like you can bring copies for the Council. Add a couple of extras for the City Clerk and the media in the front row."
7. Listen to what others say. If one of your points is covered before you get up to speak, cross it off your list.
8. If you can’t possibly cram what you have to say in 3 minutes, call City Hall a week or two in advance and ask to be put on the schedule to make an agendized presentation.