A response to Tom Butt's article entitled "To Clap or Not to Clap":
With all due respect, Tom, the problem last night was not entirely the fault of the people showing their enthusiasm for a speaker they agreed with. When you taunted—yes, taunted—the public by asking whether this was a talent contest, it was condescending, demeaning and insulting and THAT, Tom, was what brought on the whoops and boos. You didn't say it just once, Tom. You said it at least twice and these people felt much like others felt a week before when you made your comment about poor people expecting maid service.
As for the show of support after each speaker, this is much the same as when supporters of the Mayor or Jovanka line up to praise them for the most minor of things. If the Mayor sets up a presentation to praise someone for their environmentalism when they picked up a gum wrapper off the street, supporters line up to praise that person for their civic activism and then they praise the Mayor for recognizing the wonderful actions. Isn't this really much the same 'waste' of meeting time as what happens when someone claps? No wait—the clapping takes maybe 5-7 seconds but each of the Mayor's or Jovanka's supporters get two minutes to verbally 'clap' to show their support.
There are a lot of ways, Tom, to speed up these meetings and if the Council ever gets serious about this, then we the people in the audience can give you all pointers. All you have to do is to listen to us. We're actually muttering these suggestions from the audience but we're not allowed to voice our opinions any louder for fear that the Mayor will have the police cite us and boot us from the meeting. [When I suggest you listen, I'm not talking about another straw poll amongst your own dittoheads that reply to your polls. They're not representative of the City as a whole and I think you know this.]
Just to whet your appetite, let me suggest that rather than spend 40 minutes of Council time ejecting 250 members of the public and then fighting amongst yourselves about it afterwards, wouldn't it have been more productive to simply allow the clapping? Let's see…29 speakers times 10 seconds of clapping comes to about 290 seconds. That's extending the meeting by almost five whole minutes—compared to extending the meeting by at least 40 minutes as the Council disrupts the meeting.
Let's see if we can think of another action regularly seen at our meetings that adds little to the meeting but extends the meeting: when members of the Council—especially the Mayor—overtalks other members of the Council or the public, the agenda does not move forward. We're simply wasting time.
Or how about those interminable debates about extending the meeting so the Mayor can finish HER agenda items. Twenty minutes of discussion on whether to extend the meeting past the Council's own deadline?
There's more to this list, Tom, if you or any other member of the Council is interested. [The Corky issue is a whole other email discussion.]
I know that several members of the Council might say that the meeting would progress better if people like me would just shut up and sit down. You'll say that no one is listening to us anyway so why don't we get it and stay seated. That, too, is fodder for another discussion.
Don Gosney, Richmond Resident