City to resume live public comment at council meetings via Zoom

Starting Tuesday, June 16, the Edmonds City Council is reintroducing live public comments to its weekly meeting agendas.

The council has been meeting remotely via Zoom since March, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order. While the public could watch the meetings live, they were unable to comment in real time. Written public comments were also accepted via email but were not publicly acknowledged or read.

“Public participation is important to our democratic process, but due to current meeting restrictions and concern over the well-being of the community, it is still not feasible to have these meetings in council chambers with people speaking at the podium,” said Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas. “We are providing a safe alternative by inviting live participation through Zoom.”

Instructions for participating in Zoom public comment using a computer or a telephone will be provided on the council webpage and council agenda at www.edmondswa.gov/city-council.html.

 

4 Replies to “City to resume live public comment at council meetings via Zoom”

  1. City Meetings have allowed for public comments to be read. As long as the comments are under three minutes, Citizens’ rights to send in their comments to be read by a Council Member, should still be allowed. There has been no ordinance to change this.

    Ignored

  2. This all started with the Governors Proclamation. Experts can tell us how the new feature of written comments was induced in the first place. Resolution, some form of executive order or ordinance. That what would have to be changed to remove the reading of comments. Let’s think for a moment about how and why we want to give public input.
    How: 3 minute at the microphone. Hard to do for many people, but it does get into the public record. It is used for general comments and very often on specific issues during a public hearing. Useful but limited in the ability to present data and other information that is better done with the written word. For public hearings, same story but confined to a specific topic. Think crumb rubber, connector, and items like that. Because of the proclamation, written comments were allowed. Definitely an added way and some would say a more useful way to offer pubic comments but it could become very time consuming. 20 letters, 3 minutes each is an hour. The blogger on MEN alone could take up a couple of hours each week on the agenda.

    Why: We want to express an opinion and very importantly we may want to offer information, data, or ideas that will help council and mayor shape policy and actions. Before the current process the only way to get things to council was to write to one or more council members directly. Useful but the public does not get the benefit of individual input if there is no public location for those comments.

    Good Government would suggest: What issues will be discussed and decided this year and when. Given what and when, how can the public add comments and information that could help. Looking at the Directors budget proposals give a clue but the most efficient way is to look at the councils extended agenda. It typically outlines the what and when but offers not way to input. Look at the most recent extended agenda at this link.

    https://weblink.edmondswa.gov/weblink/0/edoc/973756/Extended%20Agenda%2006.12.20.pdf

    Unfortunately, the current agenda show almost no issues to be discussed but simply list a bunch of reports that will be presented. One item that will be discussed on June 23 is the Boys and Girls Club. We really won’t know until the Friday before what will even be discuss about the B&G Club. The only public hearing on the agenda is for Oct 6 when council will discuss Flood Damage Prevention Ord.

    One suggestion would be to do a more complete job of laying out an agenda and allow the public to input anytime along the way in some form of blog. The public would not only be able to comment but they would be able to see others comments long before the actual council discussion. The public would have a more robust way to comment and council could see all the public discussion will in advance of decision day.

    So as we consider asking for the current input process to include Zoom And written comments we should really be asking for a much more robust way to citizens to input to their elected.

    Ignored

  3. This started prior to Governor Inslee’s March 24, 2020 Proclamation dealing with the Open Public Meetings Act. Edmonds City Council acted during the March 17, 2020 City Council meeting to: “Holding Council Meetings remotely via GoToMeeting”. A Main Motion was made and seconded to approve the City Council moving to Virtual Meetings. An Amendment to the Main Motion was made that included “That live Public Comment not be taken during such Meetings to encourage the Public to shelter in place” and “That the Public be encouraged to submit comments to the City Council in writing”. The Amendment concluded by stating “That the above arrangements remain in effect until the City Council takes subsequent action”.

    Both the Amendment and the Main Motion carried unanimously.

    I believe it better to use Resolutions when adopting City Council rules and procedures. Per MRSC, a Resolution is a formal expression of opinion, will, or intent from an official body that often addresses a matter of special or temporary nature. I think adopting something more formally via Resolution facilitates Council’s ability to comply with its previous actions. I think Resolutions can also help City Council to not forget when Council needs to take “subsequent action”.

    The City Council has not taken any subsequent action to change this so I do not think the public will be able to make live Public Comments during the July 16, 2020 City Council meeting.

    This may be a blessing in disguise as now the City Council can solicit public input regarding how best to administrate and motivate public comments as we move forward. Darrol’s comments provide many solid ideas for Council to consider and I imagine other citizens will appreciate an opportunity to provide input on this important matter.

    I am concerned that Legislative Aide Maureen Judge emailed me and told me to please resubmit my Public Comments that I made via email on June 10th. She apparently thinks I now have to use Zoom on Tuesday night at 7pm if I want to submit Public Comments for the June 16th meeting. I hope this is not an indication that somebody wants to do away with the public’s ability to submit Public Comments via email.

    Hopefully, the City Council will not take any “subsequent action” until citizens have a chance to be heard. I imagine most will support additional robust ways for citizens to provide input to our elected officials.

    Ignored

  4. Council decisions should be made as a body in a public meeting. Not in closed executive sessions or by emails only sent among themselves. The public has the right to know when, why and how decisions are being made for them and by our elected representatives, especially council meeting procedures affecting their participation.

    Our new Mayor and City Council have been poorly trained on the Open Public Meetings Act. The May 15th, 2020 Special Meeting conducted for the exclusive purpose of a closed Executive Session is a blatant example of our City Attorney’s inability and un-wiliness to follow State law and provide competent legal counsel to our government.

    Another example Council President Fraley-Monillas June 11th, 2020, Media release regarding public comment. There was no subsequent Council action to change from the Gotomeeting service to Zoom website service. There was no subsequent Council action to change the way citizens can provide public comments. This City administration and council are operating in a vacuum and without public participation. The Council chambers were supposed to be open and available for public viewing and comment. The City Council chambers were closed to the public, because gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman and friends showed up at the March 24th meeting.

    An another example is the May 26th, 2020 first executive session called for the purpose of discussing potential litigation. The Mayor, City Council and City Attorneys falsely announce the reason for closed meeting. There was no potential litigation because the former Finance Director had already signed the agreement more than 7 days prior to May 26th, 2020. Mr. James by signing the agreement waived all of his legal rights to sue the City. Also in my opinion there was unheard communication between Council President Fraley-Monillas that prompted the City Attorney to intervene into the legislative process and change a roll call vote of the council. One of the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act is to be able to hear all that is going on, secret communications are prohibited.

    The Mayor and City need to be held accountable for their illegal actions and I plan on accomplishing the task.

    Ignored

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *