By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(Victorville)— The Victorville City Council has made some changes to their meetings recently. These trial basis changes include moving the start time from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. as well as moving the open public comments section from the beginning of the meeting until the end. These changes go in effect at the next September meeting, and will stay through the end of the year.
Doug Robertson, Victorville City Manager, spoke to High Desert Daily via e-mail regarding the change in times. “The changes were requested based on requests to Councilmember Valles from constituents wanting to bring their children to meetings. I suspect the change in meeting time will be more convenient to some and less convenient to others.”
Victorville Council Member Jim Kennedy responded to the time changes in a phone interview, as well as talked about the positive effects it can have on the general public. “One of the reasons we wanted to do it on a trial basis is to see how it would work. We decided to do it for our meetings in September, October, November and December, and then in January we would revisit the subject. The thinking behind changing the meeting time was that, over the last several years, even before I was on the council, closed session with all the different litigation issues that have been going on, closed session often required that two hour greater time before the meetings. We are just not having much now that requires such closed session time, so we decided one hour was enough to do closed session. That allowed us to move the meeting time to 6 p.m. My hope in moving it that by moving it to 6 p.m., it would make it easier for members of the public to attend: some have kids, that need to do homework and get to bed at a decent hour, and sometimes coming to a meeting that started at 7 p.m. that lasted until 9 p.m. was too much. We would like to see more kids in attendance, more parents, more members of the public.”
Kennedy also touched on decision to move public comments to the end of the meeting, a decision that had many factors involved. “The business of the council is to attend to the business. We have a published agenda, that agenda sometimes affects a number of people, people want to have their matters heard by the council. We feel that those business matters should take precedence. Public comments are important, although generally speaking, the open public comments are matters that are not on the agendized, they are not something we can engage in a discussion. We thought it made sense to move that to the end of the meeting to get the business of the council handled promptly and expeditiously. As it is structured now, people come in and make public comments at the beginning of the meeting and then they leave. It might be a matter that is actually handled on the agenda, it might be a matter we decide to deal with at the end of the meeting: frequently we will take a matter asked in public comments and ask for it to be agendized. The way it is now: people are gone. They left; they have been gone for an hour. They don’t have any idea that we have responded to the concern they have raised.”
For more information on the Victorville City Council, please visit their page on the City of Victorville’s website at: http://www.ci.victorville.ca.us/Site/CityCouncil.aspx?id=50.