The Dallas City Council is proposing rule changes for public speakers at council meetings. Dallas proposes moving up the deadline to request time to 5 p.m. the day before the meeting. Also, if you have spoken within the last 30 days, your time will be limited to one minute, instead of three minutes allotted to everyone else.
After the jump, my thoughts about how this is handled in Dallas and Richardson.
The changes in Dallas are probably designed to minimize the time wasted by regular speakers who, as The Dallas Morning News's Steve Thompson puts it, "are clearly troubled, speak to no particularly relevant issue, and often make little sense." Such people clearly need help, but the City Council's changes provide no help while chipping away at the rights of everyone to petition their government. So while I sympathize with the council's predicament, I don't support their solution to the problem.
Richardson has no deadline for requesting time (just complete a card prior to a meeting and present it to the city secretary), a five minute rule and no restrictions on repeat speakers. I can't remember the last time the visitors section of the council meetings has been abused. Speakers don't always have their facts straight and aren't always courteous, but they are not "troubled." Let them have their five minutes, at as many meetings as they want.
So, I'm happy with Richardson's rules as they are. Now, if I could only get the Council or someone on the city staff to follow up with a public response to questions, suggestions or complaints raised during visitors section, I'd be completely satisfied.
P.S. I've changed my habit of abbreviating "microphone" as "mike" to "mic" following feedback received from one reader who makes the reasonable point that microphone is spelled with a "c" not a "k." In my defense, I could point to Wikipedia, but I aim to please, so, open mic it is. ;-)