Changes Proposed To Streamline Council Meetings, Foster Wider Public Participation

One of Mayor Harry Sidhu’s priorities has been making council meetings operate in a more efficient, productive manner that is respectful of the people’s time, not to mention staff time and resources. During the Tait-Moreno majority era, council meetings turned into fatiguing marathons.

At a previous council meeting, Sidhu tasked staff with developing recommendations to streamline council meetings. Those recommendations are on tonight’s agenda and consist of:

  • Eliminating the first councilmembers communications period that follows general public comments.
  • Reserving the early public comments period for those pertaining to agenda items, and moving public comments about non-agenda items to the end of the council meeting.
  • Requiring speakers to fill out speaker cards and submit them no later than an hour after the council meeting starts.
  • Reduce the speaking time on quasi-judicial agenda items (such a land use matters) from 20 to 15 minutes for applicants, from 5 to 3 minutes for members of the public, and reducing the applicant’s rebuttal time from 10 to 5 minutes. Mind you, these changes would not bar the mayor or presiding officer from increasing those time allotments if warranted.
  • Adding this language to the council’s procedural rules concerning “Disruption of Meetings”:

“It is the intent of Council that all persons wishing to attend and participate in Council meetings not be deterred from doing so. As such, persons in the audience shall refrain from behavior which will disrupt the public meeting. This will include making loud noises, clapping, booing, hissing or engaging in any other activity in a manner that disturbs, disrupts or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting.”

These are all common sense changes that in now way impede or restrict the public’s right to speak their mins to council members. The latter language is clearly intended to protect the right of individuals to address the council without being subjected to ridicule and harassment by others.

Naturally, that is lost on the primarily progressive gadflies whose lives revolve around Anaheim City Council meetings. These members of what could be called the “Tuesday Night Social Justice Social Club” are going absolutely ape – particularly over asking people in the audience to refrain from disrupting council meetings. They are venting outrage over non-existent restrictions on their freedom of speech and calling into question their ability to read and comprehend plain English.

As alluded to earlier, Jones mistakenly believes Item 29 bars clapping, booing and hissing. It doesn’t. It asks the audience to refrain from behavior – including clapping and hissing – that disrupts or impedes the orderly conduct of the meeting. Polite clapping after someone speaks – not an issue. Booing and hissing a speaker with whom one disagrees – that’s disrupting the orderly conduct of a meeting, not to mention interfering with that person’s right to address the council.

Real exemplars of civic virtue.

“Send lawyers, guns and money.” There’s temperate, reasoned public discourse for you.

These folks need to relax. Judging by their comments on social media, one would think they are being censored. That is untrue – and obviously so according to the plain language of the proposed amendment.

The stated intent of the change is that “all persons wishing to attend and participate in Council meetings not be deterred from doing so.” In others words, it is intended to foster increased public participation in council meetings.  Why would Wes Jones and other self-appointed voices-of-the-community object to changes designed to increase community participation?

The reality is disruptive behavior from the small number of gadflies who camp in the chamber at every council meeting tends to deter ordinary residents from coming to council to speak their minds. Public speaking can be nerve-wracking enough for most folks without having to worry about being booed by others in the audience. When regular residents decide an issue is important enough to come to a city council meeting and are working up the nerve to speak — it’s understandable that seeing others being booed or hissed will cause them to reconsider and hold their peace.

Is that what Wes Jones and his comrades want? 

The proposed language doesn’t target speech. It doesn’t even forbid clapping or booing.  It asks that people refrain from disruptive behavior that impedes conducting council meetings in a way that is welcoming to public participation from all viewpoints.

if Jones and his cohorts think they’re being muzzled if they cannot boo and hiss their fellow citizens, and engage in intimidating behavior that deters normal people from coming to council meetings and participating in public comments – what does that say about them? The new language basically just asks people to be polite and follow the Golden Rules – and the response of this gaggle of progressive activists is to scream “censorship!”

These changes in no way restrict the freedom to address this council and speak one’s mind. On the contrary: if successful, they will encourage more participation by ordinary Anaheim residents – who generally do not share the politically-correct, social justice warrior agendas of these gadflies.

Maybe that’s what really worries these gadflies. 

16 comments

  1. You mean have civility at a council meeting. How ridiculous a concept. It might extend to our Frdetal government and where would we be then? Best wishes to the council.

  2. Wes Jones, the Robbins, Victoria Michaels, and the rest of them are like a bullying high school clique. They have their little community that revolves around going to council meetings and acting as if they speak for “the community.”

    They don’t. And they don’t want new rules asking them not to be bullies.

    Wes Jones, Jeannie Robbins and their crew don’t care about other people’s free speech rights. If they oppose what you have to say, they have no problem shouting you down. Bunch of hypocrites.

  3. I am totally turned off by the Robbin’s “activism”, Wes and Vern are equally silly.
    Perhaps the best description was when Congressman Correa called Vern “The New Rocco”

    These losers DO NOT represent the people of Anaheim, working class or otherwise.

  4. Matt you buffoon “ send Lawyers guns and money” is a Hunter s. Thompson quote you might know that if you could read.

  5. David Michael Klawe

    After an interesting discussion, the item was tabled until the next meeting, so some adjustments are made, and more input from all 6 councilmembers can take place.

    Trevor O’Neil had an interesting idea of a 90 minute limit for public comments prior to the agenda items, with speakers that wish to discuss agenda items getting priority, and then general comments can use the rest of the 90 minutes. Of course, any leftover speaker cards could speak after the main part of the meeting has concluded.

    In my opinion, the easiest way, which many California cities do, is Agenda item speakers are at the beginning of the meeting (as required by law) and then General Comments at the end. Don’t make things too complicated. And if too many Agenda Item Speaker cards are turned in before Public Comments start, then reduce the speaking time to 2 minutes per speaker for everyone. Anything less than 2 minutes is not enough, IMHO.

  6. Interested observer

    Congratulations to Mayor Sidhu and the majority for bringing back some common sense decorum to the Dias.
    I only attended one school board meeting while Dr Moreno was the chair but found the way he ran that meeting vs how he supports the CC meeting be run most interesting.
    Before he opened public comment he announced that only those who filled out a speaker card could speak. He would allow 20 minutes for speaker comments and anyone who didn’t get a chance to speak in that time could come back and speak at the next meeting. That was it, when time was up he stopped the speakers and they went on with the meeting agenda.

    So one can’t help but ask what happened to that approach once he got elected to City Council?

  7. David Michael Klawe

    Here is one thought about Some folks who make Public Comments, such as wanting a Crosswalk and/or traffic light after a tragedy, issues with Water meters, having problems with a specific department of the city, etc.

    In reality, the City Council meeting isn’t the place for that.

    So better communication in how to figure out your district and councilmember, and how to contact them, how to reach the City Manager office, and other avenues that can much more easily offer direct one on one contact and dialogue.

    The next round of the city’s quarterly Neighborhood Services District Community Meetings are about to start. Neighborhood services serves as a single point of contact for residents in need of assistance. Every city department has someone in attendance.

    Here are the dates and times of the next set of meetings. And while they are set in specific districts, if you can’t make one meeting, you can attend any or all of them. All meetings start at 7 PM

    District 1 & 2 – Wed, Feb. 6th at the Brookhurst Community Center

    District 3 – Thur, Feb. 7th at the Downtown Anaheim Community Center

    District 4 – Wed, Feb. 13th at Ball Jr. High

    District 6 – Wed, Feb. 20th at the East Anaheim Community Center

    District 5 – Thur, Feb 21st at Rio Vista Elementary

    Moving these requests for assistance can be handled at lot easier, as Public Comments are only a one way communication, in other venues.

    Also, addressing the Mayor and the council. When the new Agenda is released on Friday Evening, I read it over, and see if any items deserve some input (most don’t), I send e-mails, stating my viewpoints, and if needed, add attachments or other things that can’t be done in a 3 minute period. If the council member feels the need to ask questions for clarification, it can be done in a two-way communication. Some might prefer to make a phone call. But you have the weekend, and Monday to get your point across in a much easier format.

    As for communicating with your neighbors, NextDoor is way to share your concerns and see what your neighbors think about it.

    The city staff did a good job with the original set of changes, and were approved by the city Attorney to make sure the rights of the public were not infringed. Hopefully the new set of proposed changes follow in the same light as the original set.

  8. Hi I’m a Senior. Whom live in Anaheim and I m as I Ride the Bus and Text thru out the city and see the problems and that hits all things needs improvement. Why is there no Guardians Angles rideing the buses and you call theses fast food places food to go poppy cock and these mom and pop stores pending on the color of your skin they treat you like blank and I was homeless at one time there can be a saluion it can be done etc.

  9. TOMORROW IS THE VOTE TO BRING BACK OUR FLAG. Please call/write the Anaheim City Council and ask them to bring back our original flag. Come speak at the City Council meeting in defense of our flag. Agenda Item 21

  10. THE VOTE TO BRING BACK OUR FLAG IS TONIGHT: Please come and speak at the meeting in defense of our original flag. If you cannot please contact the Anaheim City Council or your districts council member. Agenda Item 21

  11. Well after Councilmember Brandman tried to get a compromise Flag approved, the Council with 4 Ayes (Sidhu, O’Neil, Kring, Faessel) voted to return to our original city Flag.

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