Saturday, September 17, 2011

Commerce City Council to Discuss Process of Citizen communications during City Council meetings

During the council meeting on Monday, Sept. 19th, the Commerce City Council will discuss the process of citizen communications. Council has raised the issue as to whether the agenda item "Citizen Communication" should be expanded to allow for discussion by City Council with a citizen on issues raised by a citizen during that part of a City Council meeting.

In the past, issues have arisen as to the length of City Council meetings. As a result, restrictions were placed on how Citizen Communications should be treated as part of the City Council meetings. Recently, some members of City Council have not been satisfied with the restrictions imposed regarding the "Citizen Communication" agenda item and have requested that the practice be reviewed and a policy adopted regarding citizen communications.

Current Policy:
Each agenda for regular meetings of the City Council shall contain an agenda item designated "Citizen Communications" in order to provide citizens an opportunity to address the City Council subject to the terms and conditions of this resolution.

A Public Comment Roster shall be made available prior to each regular meeting of City Council and any citizen who wishes to address the City Council, either under Citizen Communications or with regard to any first reading of an ordinance, must complete the Public Comment Roster and submit it to the City Clerk with the printed name, signature and address of the citizen wishing to speak along with a short description of the topic or subject that will be addressed. The requirement for signing the Public Comment Roster as to any specific item on the agenda may be waived by the Mayor or other Councilmember chairing the meeting if the number of citizens wishing to speak with regard to that specific item makes it impractical to require each of them to sign the Public Comment Roster.

The agenda item "Citizen Communications" is not intended to be used as a platform to express personal or political philosophies or messages that have little or nothing to do with the business and affairs of the City of Commerce City.

Neither the City Council nor the City staff shall be expected to respond immediately to matters raised in the "Citizen Communications". However, City Council members shall always retain the right to ask questions of the citizen. In order to avoid the risk of an inaccurate or inadequate response to a citizen concern, the members of the City Council are encouraged to refer questions raised during the "Citizen Communications" to the City Manager or the City Attorney for a timely response.

All speakers must stay on topic and are encouraged to state their points as briefly and clearly as possible. Redundancies and repetitive remarks should be avoided.

Except when presenting evidence in an advertised public hearing, each speaker shall be limited to three (3) minutes which shall be monitored by a timer. Upon completion of the speaker's comments, any member of the City Council may ask questions for clarification. Such questions and answers shall not be timed but the Mayor or other Councilmember chairing the meeting, in his or her discretion, may limit further questions and discussion.

All remarks shall be addressed to the City Council and no member of the City Council or City staff shall be requested or expected to engage in discussions or debate with any speaker.

Personal attacks, whether directed toward members of the City Council, City staff or fellow citizens, are prohibited.

The use of profanity or ethnic, racial or gender-oriented slurs or any disorderly conduct is prohibited.

The Mayor, or other Councilmember chairing the meeting, has the authority to order any person to terminate his or her remarks if the time allotted to such person has expired or if the speaker has violated any of the foregoing rules. When the City Council is required to make a decision in a quasi-judicial proceeding, each member of the City Council is legally required to be impartial and in order that all quasi-judicial hearings will be conducted in a fair and impartial manner, no evidence outside a hearing may be considered by the City Council in arriving at its decision. Therefore, if any citizen wishes to speak regarding an issue that is pending or may, with a reasonable probability, be pending as determined by the Mayor or other Councilmember chairing the meeting, as an issue that may require a quasi-judicial hearing for determination by the City Council, the citizen may be advised to defer his or her remarks until the quasi-judicial hearing is held by the City Council.

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