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Comment Cards Coming for Brentwood City Council Meetings?

The Public Safety Committee is already using them.

There could be a change in the way public comments are handled at city council meetings.

City Administrator Bola Akande has suggested that anyone who wants to comment or ask a question in a meeting would need to fill out a card first. Then (deputy city clerk) Octavia Pittman or Akande would give it to the mayor.

Those wanting to comment would then be called on to come to the podium. Akande said how it would go from there is undetermined at this point.

“At the last meeting we had some residents complain that because now that we’re on YouTube, they feel reluctant to be on camera mentioning their home address,” Akande said.

She said she might not necessarily read the address out loud, but it would still be reflected in the minutes.

One of the committees, public safety, has, already implemented it, Akande said. She said the board of aldermen might make a decision about it at the August 20 meeting.

“It’s rather simplistic,” she said. “It forces people to think through their comments, so you’re not just rambling on endlessly.”

Alderwoman Maureen Saunders said at the public safety committee meetings a question turned in on a card at one meeting might not be answered until the next.

She said she doesn’t like the practice.

Saunders said it’s in Robert’s Rules of Order that it’s not mandatory for a commenter to give an address.

“The chairman could do away with that, so I do not want to go to public comment cards,” Saunders said.

How do you feel about public comment cards? Take the poll below.

(It's now necessary to have a Patch account to vote.)

Elisabeth Boone August 10, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Comment cards? That sounds like the 1950s. Cards that contain questions that the mayor prefers not to address could easily be "misplaced." Also, what's the connection between a comment card and a home address? If Robert's Rules of Order don't require citizens to state their address before articulating a concern, what's the point of the cards? As for the city administrator's assertion that the use of comment cards will force people to think through their comments so they're not "rambling on endlessly," my recollection of the July meeting was that each resident who spoke stated his or her concerns clearly and respectfully. Most of the "endless rambling" (some garnished with vitriol) emanated from the board, with one alderman accusing another of blackmail and a long-time alderman raising his voice and excoriating residents who dared to question the judgment of the elected officials who rewarded themselves with free health insurance at taxpayer expense. And one wonders: What will happen to the comment cards after the meeting? In whose custody will they be maintained, for how long, and for what purpose?
Mr. Completely August 10, 2012 at 03:43 PM
The comment card idea from Brentwood city hall is not in response to citizen concerns over having their home address disclosed via YouTube. Whenever citizens become aware of mismanagement within their local government and start attending meetings and speaking their mind the elected officials try and control the citizens’ ability to speak on the record in a public forum. They can’t handle the heat. The mayors of Metro St. Louis have a monthly luncheon and the topic of limiting, controlling or eliminating public comment at city meetings is a frequent topic of discussion among those who have problems within their community due to poor leadership. Comment cards have been tried. Switching public comment to the end of the meeting has been tried. Limiting commenters’ time, limiting comments to specific matters on the agenda, on and on. It all smells like violations of our right to free speech. Continued>>>>>>
Mr. Completely August 10, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Any alderman or mayor worthy of public office should support free and frequent public comments at ALL meetings. Here’s my thought on the comment cards. If they implement this limit on free speech then Brentwood citizens should make signs stating their concerns and carry them around outside city hall in protest of this infringement on their rights. Get on the Patch and Blog, take the battle against bad government outside of city hall and into the street. Hey they started it, you all can finish it. Don’t ever be silenced Brentwood . Maybe you could all pool your money and start Robo Calling Brentwood residents with weekly updates on their elected officials. From what I’ve heard Robo Calling is perfectly acceptable and within the law in Brentwood.
Yvette August 10, 2012 at 06:02 PM
What is the point of having the meetings and allowing citizens to come if we can not ask a question and get an instant answer right then and there. Most people can not attend each and every meeting. Seems like all this is allowing is government officials the opportunity to sort through the questions and have a "prepared" statement done ahead of time for their response. If I ask a question of my officials that I elected....I would like an answer and discussion done then. not a month later with a "prepared" answer that may or not be their opinion and when possibly that question is now not even a valid point or concern. I want to hear what THEY have to say about the topic at that moment. Brentwood has always been a small quiet tight friendly community of generations of the same families living here and raising their children here. Please do not make us into a large city mentality with non-approchable government officials with meetings that we have to "take a number" to get granted the permission to speak up or ask a question at a future time.
1987 August 10, 2012 at 06:56 PM
So am I the only one who finds it distasteful for the patch to publish young men's highschool photo/mugshot, name and school. Why don't you sob's go back to publishing more stories about the local sports teams.
TOOWARM August 10, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I agree with Mr. Completely, The Aldermen and Mayor make secret deals behind closed doors... so WE should document our concerns and let them pick and choose what to address..... pathetic....
Mr. Completely August 10, 2012 at 09:49 PM
I’m assuming you are commenting on the recent story about the young man from Brentwood who had an incident at Jimmy Johns in Hanley Industrial that resulted in his arrest. I would substitute your word *distasteful* with painful. There’s nothing funny about this story and as a parent I winced when I read about it. Nevertheless the Patch has an obligation to report the NEWS. The good, bad, ugly and sad. If they cherry picked or censored any relevant story they would have no credibility. Put yourself in the shoes of the employees at Jimmy Johns who ended up with physical injury from the incident. Perhaps they live in Brentwood, I don’t know. I do know that sometimes good people do some pretty stupid things. It’s not mine to judge, nor is it the job of any newspaper to judge.
Doug Miner August 10, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Thanks for your comments! First, that's just the 2nd time today I've been called an SOB, so not bad! Second, whether an 19-year-old is from Brentwood or Tulsa, Oklahoma, if he's accused of anything in the 1st degree in Brentwood or Maplewood, I hope you'll read about it in Patch. And believe me, I'll get in as much HS sports as time allows!

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