BOSCOBEL - If you want to address Boscobel’s City Council, you’d best plan ahead. That’s according to new rules from Mayor Brenda Kalish announced at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
In the past, anyone could show up ad hoc to address the council with concerns, complaints, or congratulations during the “Public Comment” segment of the meeting. Under the new rules, no one may address the body unless they either register the subject matter ahead of time, or are given special dispensation by the council to speak.
Additionally, the mayor quashed the informal e-mail list of about 80 recipients who had previously received a “courtesy” agenda and a packet of supporting materials in advance of each council meeting.
Kalish framed the new rules as a way to streamline meetings.
“There’s been times that one comment will end up in a big argument. They need to learn who their Alders are,” Kalish told the council. “If it’s five different people complaining about the same thing, there’s an actual issue and not just one person being upset.”
City Attorney Ben Wood explained the issue as a need to provide public notice, via the council agenda, about subjects to be discussed at the meetings.
“A lot of times what happens is people bring up things here, and we debate it even though its not on the agenda,” he said. “There’s two ways to do it: Leave public comment on and then just not talk about any of the things that are brought up, until somebody says, ‘Let’s do it in a future meeting on an agenda,’ or you just take it off.”
Fourth Ward Alderman Brian Kendall questioned the necessity of the change.
“It’s so nice to see the crowd here,” he said, indicating those in attendance for the public hearing. “We never used to have people and now we’re seeing people come out.”
Wood countered that the meetings are still open and accessible. “Anybody can talk at any point in time. They just have to tell you what they’re going to talk about.”
As far as the email list is concerned, Kalish said that from now on the agendas would be posted only in the legally proscribed manner, which typically includes a physical copy at City Hall, the public library, and the Dial office. Packets of supporting information will not be distributed.
“We’ve been having issues with that,” she explained. “People will call later on and say, ‘We didn’t get the email, can you re-send it.’ And then its like definitely more and more and more people getting it. So we’re just going to post it in all the proper places, and it will be available on our website.”