Wednesday, February 01, 2006

City Council Meeting Speaking Policies

Interesting idea from a letter writer in today's Eureka Reporter: Should residents of a city have precedence over non- residents in addressing their city council? Maybe they should. A timely issue since a couple e-mails went out recently over some left wing e-mail lists I subscribe to. They asked supporters to show up at Eureka City Council meetings dealing with the Balloon Tract and voice their opposition to private development there.

That said, Eureka is the county seat. Does that entitle everyone in the county to have a say in what transpires with the Balloon Tract? I don't know. Perhaps someone from outside the city might submit some unique bit of wisdom on the issue no one thought of before? Unlikely, but the idea of limiting comments to just residents of a given jurisdiction makes some sense. After all, we don't let Fortuna residents vote on Eureka tax issues, do we? Still, the exclusionary nature of this suggestion rubs me the wrong way.

Might many of the people from outside Eureka who end up showing up for these council meetings also support banning campaign contributions from non- local corporations in local elections? Hmmm...

15 Comments:

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't live in Eureka but have received e-mails from Local Solutions to pack the council chambers and try and set policy for the City. These emails are like banging the gong to call the orks to descend on the city and give the misimpression that the orks are residents of Eureka. Now don't get me wrong, I think some outsiders may have some pearls of wisdom, but that is not the point here. I think that the residents of Eureka should have priority to speak if there is only limited time. I also think that anyone speaking should identify themselves as I think it is imperative that the council and the community know just who is trying to set policy for Eureka. Plus, it just rubs me wrong that persons who live outside Eureka would be given preference to speak about local concerns over city residents all the while lending the impression that they live in Eureka.

 
At 10:56 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I've never been to any city council meetings but have watched a few on T.V. Seems to me most people do identify themselves and where they live before they speak, but maybe they've gotten lax about that.

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger Anon.R.mous said...

I think that giving the people from Eureka full time, and the non residents, less time, or time at the end of the meeting, maybe even less time, is a good thing. Eureka may be the county seat, but Eureka is first, Eureka. Having people from Westhaven and other outlaying areas come in and tell people how to live in their city isn't fair. I'm more worried that the far left PAC will start having people reg in Eureka at their friends house for a nice case of voter fraud, and to get the vote to go their way. If there are no major key issues in their area that needs to be voted on, well, don't you think this might happen?

 
At 11:38 AM, Blogger Fred said...

That would be a toughie,as easy though it might sound. First; It wouldn't probably take long for someone to notice the person claiming to be from Eureka lives in Trinidad, especially with council meetings being televised and all. That would be a real black eye for them, keeping in mind the stink over the Salzman letters.

Second, it would put them in a bind should they make a move to take over other certain areas of the county. Let's say Local Solutions decides they can take over the Trinidad Town Council, because for one reason or another it looks like an easy shot. They'd need their voters registered there to accomplish that. It would work both ways.

Admittedly, if such a scheme was actually attempted, it probably wouldn't amount to only a handful of people taking part so it might not end up accomplishing much anyway.

 
At 12:23 PM, Blogger Anon.R.mous said...

That's true. Does seem like alot of work. Better keep my eyes on Indymedia to see what silly things they have planned for us.

 
At 12:53 PM, Blogger mresquan said...

I generally agree with the statement he makes. I go to a good amount of the council meetings,and they're not packed. People only really come out for bigger issues.Other than that the public comment periods are fairly short.Now, in Arcata this should definentally be applied,since its public comment periods run much longer,and residents who have lived there for a long time are often forced to wait for a while to speak.That's why I was opposed to them moving their public comment period until the end of the meeting.Someone who has lived in the town their whole life shouldn't have to wait until 11:00 to adress council on something important to them.As far certain groups taking over the meetings,it would happen regardless if they really wanted to.

 
At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a red herring. Anonymous wrote: "...it just rubs me wrong that persons who live outside Eureka would be given preference to speak..."

Show us evidence that non-Eureka residents are being given "preference" in speaking order. The public comment period is for all people -- living anywhere -- to address the city council on any issue related to the city. It is not, and never has been, intended only for Eureka residents.

I don't live in Eureka, but I spend more of my waking hours there than in my "real" hometown. I also spend more of my money (excluding property taxes) in Eureka than in my "real" hometown. Do I care what happens in Eureka? You betcha. Do I care what Eureka does when it affects my "real" hometown and the rest of the county? You betcha. Cities aren't walled fortresses anymore. Every resident of this county should be concerned with the major actions of the Eureka city council and every other local city council.

Why would there be an uproar in Eureka over Fortuna considering a Wal-Mart inside its city limits? Even conservatives understand the interconnected nature of our city economies. Take a look at "The Index of Economic Activity for Humboldt County." Notice the name? It doesn't say "of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna and McKinleyville." We are all in this together. Balking over border disputes wastes time and money.

http://www.humboldt.edu/~indexhum/

When I stand up to speak, feel free to put on your headphones and crank up the music. That's a wonderful way to educate yourself and understand your community.

 
At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we really shocked to see the two-faced behavior of the Arcata anticorporate crowd trying to pack Eureka meetings? They aren't known as Democracy Hypocracy for nothing! If border disputes dont matter then why are people just over the border in Trinity or Mendocino considered non-local in that stupid initiative?

 
At 1:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't answer that question because I'm not a member of the group you cited, nor familiar with the initiative you referenced. If a Trinity or Mendocino County resident came to speak at a Eureka City Council meeting, I would be extremely interested to hear the person's comments, to learn what they traveled so far to say.

If your concern is council members getting a distorted perception of public opinion based on who speaks at the meetings, well... even limiting speakers to only Eureka residents will still give you a terribly distorted view of public opinion. If gauging public opinion is the true goal, the only option is to conduct a scientific opinion poll.

 
At 6:21 AM, Blogger Bill G said...

Anonymous2
Why don't you get a job in your 'real hometown' or move to Eureka? Why are you spending money in Eureka? Perfect "do as I say, not as I do". You don't or won't live there, but you want to control what they do. Somebody who works and shops in Eureka probably has a different view than the residents, but the residents are the ones who have to reside there.

 
At 8:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear "anonomous" 7:18 pm - shouldn't you sign your name "R. Trent Anonomous? Your "red herring" remark is just that - a red herring. I'm with the blogger above - get a job in your real hometown or move to Eureka if you want to set policy for the residents of Eureka.

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Clever way to identify an anonymous commentor, anon8:06. Hadn't thought of that. I was thinking of adding something to the header of the blog asking anons to add something to their anon title so we can tell who's saying what.

 
At 10:31 AM, Blogger Anon.R.mous said...

I wonder if R. Trent Anonymous also visits New York and San Francisco council meetings and tells them how they should live there as well? I drive through Eureka sometimes, maybe I should stop and tell people there how to live! And anyway, didn't R. Trent Anonymous write a letter to the Eureka Reporter saying that he supports, and shops IN ARCATA because of their anti-war stance?

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I go to many Eureka City Council meetings and I live in Eureka. It is a rarity to see folks from outside Eureka. You still must say your name and where you live. Actually there are few people who speak at all. Those who do are the regular handful who are boring and usually outrageous. Perhaps the most frequent outsiders are the Elsebushes from McKinnleyville representing the HTL.

 
At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Carpface attack the city council meetings? That would be funny to watch. What is the law about selling popcorn while Carpface speaks?

 

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