The Ann Arbor City Council met Thursday night to discuss DC-2, a resolution to amend the speakers rule. The resolution extended the time limit for each councilmember from two minutes to three minutes during the “Communications from Council” portion at the beginning of the meeting and eliminated the second “Communications from Council” section.
Councilmember Jeff Hayner, D-Ward 1, said he felt this change was an insult to the outgoing members whose speaking time was reduced in the past year.
“What makes it egregiously offensive to me is that this body would consider changing the speaking rules on the eve of an entirely new body of members being sworn in,” Hayner said. “It is bad enough that you gave yourself back the time you took from us all. Now you are taking away even more.”
Councilmember Travis Radina, D-Ward 3, said he thought eliminating the second speaking opportunity is necessary to ameliorate chaos and displeasure in the meeting.
“Oftentimes (the end of the meeting) was not used to correct a date that was given wrong during a meeting but rather as an opportunity to rehash debates that were already had at this table and lob personal insults at late hours at one another,” Radina said. “We’ve seen folks storming out of here with rude hand gestures and curse words on their breath, and that is not productive.”
Councilmember Elizabeth Nelson, D-Ward 4, motioned to postpone the proposal to be decided by the incoming council. The motion failed, with Councilmember Ali Ramlawi, D-Ward 5, Hayner and Nelson voting in its favor. Councilmember Kathy Griswold, D-Ward 2, was absent for the vote.
The amended rules will also increase the number of slots for public comments at the beginning of the meeting from 10 to 15. The resolution will maintain the reservation process for comment slots, under which community members have to reserve their spot between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. the day of the meeting. Reservations made between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. are prioritized using several criteria, including the relevance of the speech to the Council agenda and whether the individual has spoken at a meeting in the past, and all later ones are prioritized in chronological order.
Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said he felt the change would expand access to public comment opportunities for community members.
“The alteration will give more folks the ability to talk to us about the issues that are before this council,” Taylor said. “The priority sets were constructed mindfully on the principles that we are here to conduct government business.”
DC-2 passed 7 to 3, with Hayner, Nelson and Ramlawi voting against.
Daily Staff Reporter Chen Lyu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.