Charlottesville City Council Discusses Adjustments to Meeting Procedures

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Charlottesville City Council on Monday, Feb. 5 Charlottesville City Council on Monday, Feb. 5

Charlottesville City Council is discussing changes to its meeting procedures at its meeting on Monday, February 5.

The public came out in full force to weigh in on what it likes and dislikes about some of the current rules that govern meetings. At the meeting, it was decided that people will still only be allowed to speak for three minutes during matters by the public but now people are allowed to speak more than once at a meeting.

Some other changes made include starting the council meetings at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Councilors will also be allowed to respond during matters by the public to have more interaction with people on the floor. Another decision made Monday night is that speakers may not concede their time to another person, but they are now allowed to share it.

The livestream on public access TV will continue to stream even through disruptions, as the public says that provides transparency about what actually goes on inside of chambers.

“You have to start realizing that there are people out there who need to know exactly what happened, there’s been a lot of tension in this town and it’s still here,” says Mary Carey, a Charlottesville resident.

The public got the chance to weigh in on proposed changes before council made a final decision.

“I feel like I should have the right in this republic, in this democracy, to cede my time to someone whose voice hasn't necessarily been heard before,” says Nancy Carpenter, a Charlottesville resident.

For many meeting attendees, allowing the public to properly interact with councilors is of utmost importance.

“If you are going to want to respond to the public, make a commitment to actually respond to the public,” says Jeffrey Fogel, a Charlottesville resident.

Another change made on Monday, is that 16 people will now be allowed to speak during public comment - eight can sign up in advance, and eight can sign up at the meeting. And if the meeting goes late, council is now allowed to cut people’s public comment time to two minutes.

Many people at Monday night’s meeting asked council to increase public comment to five minutes instead of three. However, council stuck to the old rule of keeping an individual’s time to three minutes.

Council will also start offering town hall-style meetings in an open format, and council’s goal at regular meetings is to adjourn no later than 11 p.m.

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