Rules Subcommittee on Revision of the Council Rules
October 15, 2018
Conference Room A
Fourth Floor, City Hall
117 W. Duval Street
Topic: Council Rules revisions
Attendance: Council Members Greg Anderson (Chair), Bill Gulliford, John Crescimbeni
Excused: Council Member Lori Boyer
Also: Peggy Sidman and Paige Johnston – Office of General Counsel; Trista Carraher - Council Auditor’s Office; Jeff Clements - Council Research Division; Chiquita Moore – Mayor’s Office; Carol Owens, Juliette Williams and Jessica Matthews – Legislative Services Division; Cheryl Brown – Council Secretary/Director; Louie Marino – Council Staff Services
For all other attendees please see the sign in sheet.
Convened: 4:00 p.m.
Chairman Anderson convened the meeting and the attendees introduced themselves for the record. Mr. Anderson said that research has been done on what other city councils do with regard to their public comment policies. It appears that Jacksonville is fairly generous in the amount of comment it allows and in its speaker request/registration policies. Some jurisdictions limit public comment to 20 or 30 minutes total; some require sign-up to speak in advance of the meeting start time, sometimes well in advance; some stop accepting speaker request cards when the comment period begins; some limit the number of times a person may sign up for public comment over a period of time (i.e. once in 90 days). The Ft. Worth, Texas City Council meeting closed caption system was demonstrated online. Cheryl Brown said that Jacksonville has purchased the Granicus system with real-time closed captioning and an online agenda shown along with the meeting video, but those features are not yet viewable in the Council Chamber until the computer monitors are changed out later this year.
The group discussed ways to limit the length of the first public comment period. One suggestion was imposing a time limit on the submission of speaker request cards; any cards submitted after that time would be for the second public comment period at the end of the meeting.
The committee reviewed several Council Rules compiled and distributed by Deputy General Counsel Peggy Sidman pursuant to discussions at earlier meetings. Chairman Anderson reported that Council Member Boyer had suggested that the rule regarding committee membership be amended to require that all council members serve on at least one standing committee and that any member appointed to three committees would have the right to resign from one of the three. Council Member Crescimbeni noted that the rules provide for standing committees of between 5 and 9 members; he believes that the minimum should be 7 members. The group agreed that the rules should be amended to require all council members to serve on at least 1 committee, that a member should be allowed to resign from a committee if appointed to 2 or more committees, and that committees should be comprised of a minimum of 7 members.
The group discussed ways to add council members’ names as co-sponsors to bills without the need to pull a bill from the Consent Agenda for that purpose. Ms. Sidman was requested to craft language eliminating the need for a bill to be pulled from the Consent Agenda for the sole purpose of adding co-sponsors. Council Member Crescimbeni suggested that an e-mail be sent to all council members on the day of a council meeting reminding them of their ability to add names as co-sponsors by contacting the Legislative Services Division in advance of the meeting so that the existing mechanism can be used.
The group agreed that the additional 5 seconds added to each public commenter’s 3-minute time limit with the clock starting when the speaker’s name is called has worked well during its trial period and should be incorporated into the Council Rules. Council Member Gulliford said that when he served on the Atlantic Beach City Commission they moved the public comment period to the beginning of the meeting so that public commenters could have their say and then depart from the meeting if they wished. Various ideas for an electronic queueing system to display the names of public commenters in the order in which they will be called were discussed but no resolution was reached.
Regarding the limitation of 2 resolution presentations per meeting, Mr. Anderson said that other jurisdictions have designated times outside of regular meetings for the presentation of resolutions (i.e. between the agenda meeting and the regular meeting). Council Member Crescimbeni said that the key factor is the time allowed for each presentation, not necessarily the number being presented. He suggested that rather than limit a council member to a fixed number of presentations a year, perhaps a total presentation time could be imposed (i.e. 30 minutes per year) which would encourage council members to be brief. Council Member Gulliford suggested limiting the presentation to just the sponsoring council member and the recipient, without other council members all adding additional comments. Mr. Crescimbeni said that there seems to have been a proliferation in recent years of resolutions for less and less significant events, which diminishes the value of resolutions overall. Mr. Gulliford suggested limiting the types of resolutions that can be presented at meetings, with the remainder being presented by the sponsor at other venues in the community. Mr. Crescimbeni suggested prohibiting council members from presenting resolutions at consecutive meetings and making an abbreviated summary of the resolution that would be read instead of the entire resolution. Mr. Gulliford recommended having the photo opportunity with the recipient before the meeting rather than at the time of presentation. No conclusion was reached.
The committee discussed the pros and cons of allowing a motion to deny a bill rather than moving approval and voting against the motion. Peggy Sidman urged clarity of the record and assisting the audience’s understanding of the proceedings by ensuring that the green button always means “yes” and the red button always means “no” on the proposal. The group agreed to recommend amendment of the Council Rules to remove the option to move denial of a bill.
Ms. Sidman said that she already had a Council Rules amendment underway and she will incorporate the Rules Committee’s actions tomorrow into that bill for the committee’s consideration. The committee will meet again when Council Member Boyer can be present to raise additional issues.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:55 p.m.
Minutes: Jeff Clements, Council Research Division
(904) 630-1405 firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted 10.16.2018 12:00 p.m.
Tape: Rules Subcommittee on Council Rules Revisions – LSD