New Rules to Prevent Long Meetings Cause Confusion and Longer Meetings

blogimage.jpgLast night’s Richmond City Council meeting began with the City Clerk reading new rules that had been adopted to prevent lengthy council meetings.

Within minutes, the Mayor Gayle McLaughlin had to call a 5-minute recess as arguments broke out over the new rules. Councilmember Corky Booze called the Mayor’s rule a “dictatorship.” Throughout the night, the Mayor struggled to explain the new rules and implement them to an irritated council.

Public comments added to the discord. Among the public comments, twenty individuals led by Latino community activist Rosa Lara chastised the Mayor and council for their disrespect in trying to sabotage the Cinco de Mayo festival. Jackie Thomson, Don Gosney, Ernst Lampa, and Richard Lampa all took issue with both the new rules and council discord during public comment.

Councilmember Jim Rogers attempted to defend the new rules explaining how the changes affected the public. Ironically, Rogers spoke past his time when discussing the proposed minimum wage ordinance and had to request a “special dispensation” to speak beyond his regularly allotted time. Mayor McLaughlin granted the extra time.  Shortly after the Mayor granted the request, another lengthy discussion about the rules broke out.

With the meeting almost past its scheduled end, Councilmember Jael Myrick moved to extend the meeting an extra 30 minutes until 11:30PM. Councilmember Jovanka Beckles made a substitute motion to make it a 15-minute extension. Councilmember Boozé made an additional substitute motion to extend until the end of the item and then vote.  Eventually the council voted to extend the meeting to hear other items.  The discussion of these items alone took almost 24 minutes.

With the meeting finally extended, Councilmember Tom Bates chided his colleagues for running a meeting past its end point despite its new rules that are designed to limit the speaking time of councilmembers.

Yet, despite Councilmember Bates remarks, the Mayor then used “special dispensation time” to extend her own time. She made additional arguments on the minimum wage. The meeting finally adjourned at 11:36 PM. 

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