Do City Council members talk too much? Palo Alto Issues, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Jan 17, 2013 at 10:19 am
Worried that lengthy meetings are "undermining public confidence" in the political process, Palo Alto's mayor and two City Council members have called for possible mandatory limits on council members' speaking time.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 17, 2013, 9:29 AM
Posted by Dan, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2013 at 11:05 am
The disturbing trend that I see is that everyone feels that they have to comment on everything, even if what they are saying is the same thing that someone has already said. A simple, "I agree" should suffice. If you have something important to say, then OK. If you don't, avoid the urge to get your name in the record.
Posted by Resident, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2013 at 11:49 am
Yes, they are long-winded. But the real time wasters are the STAFF. They never say Yes, or No, or We'll let you know. They speak in long paragraphs, sometimes obscuring their response. Maybe that's the game.
Posted by Annette, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2013 at 11:50 am
Agree with Dan about simply saying "Agree". Also agree with Hank that our City Council is unnecessarily big. If we could reduce it to 7 or better yet 5 members Council meetings would be more efficient. Anyone want to put some energy behind achieving that? I will help.
Posted by Mr Clawdy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Good Lawdy, Miss Clawdy!
They speak way to much! Using facts, debating solutions, even sometimes wasting time (even Miss Clawdy knows I never waste time speaking of silly wasteful things!)
They need a time limit! One size fits all! No matter how serious the issue - ding, ding, bells a ringin', time's up, you dumb pup! Move on! Who cares about whether is may affect a thousand silly Palo Altans! Time's a'wasting! Ding, Ding, ring a ding, my ding-a-ling (whups, can't start with Chucks old song - there's a one song per post rule!)
Okay, I be real: how on earth can any citizen want to set a limit? Democracy doesn't fit in bite size segments, you ADHD freaks. Go back to your tivo and fast fwd thru the slow scenes but leave democracy alone. If the issue is serious, I WANT YOU to be heard, not stomped on by an egg-timer.
dumb, dumb, dumb
Let's finish with a little (something) in the morning and not come home all night:
"So, bye, bye, bye baby; Girl, I won't be comin' no more; Goodbye little darlin' down the road I'll go"
Posted by Regular Council Attendee, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm
Yes, if one member speaks on an item they all feel they must jump in and speak to that item whether they know anything about it or not. We have Council members who go right off the subject at a tangent, bore everyone to death, and waste a whole lot of time.
I agree with Greg Scharff some Council members must be reigned in. I've sat through too many boring off the subject long winded Council Members who speak sooo slowly.
Posted by Sally-Ann Rudd, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm
There's usually so much clutter on the agenda that they don't get to the main issue until 8, 9, 10pm by which time most of the public have given up and gone home. Then, if there aren't many speakers, they conclude no one was interested. Consent calendar could be shuffled off to a separate approval stream, leaving the issues that really deserve debate to an earlier time slot.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the University South neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm
Council meetings are way too long, and council members speak unnecessarily long. A strict time limit may not be the answer, but a strong chair (mayor) is certainly needed to control the discussion and discourage repetition. Also, council should hear from the public before making their comments. All too often,"questions" from council members are really just comments. Questions before public comment should simply aim to clarify issues that the public may want to address.
Posted by Henry, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Jan 17, 2013 at 5:10 pm
The focus on shorter comments is a ruse to stifle dissent. The council meetings could be much shorter and more effective if staff produced quality staff reports that fairly present all the issues and the pros and cons of multiple alternatives. Right now the staff reports are biased reports that advocate only for their own recommendation. That means that any council member who do not fall in line with staff's recommendation must tease out the facts, and that takes time.
The public confidence is undermined by poor management and bad decision making over a long period. The goal should be the correct outcome, not saving a few minutes in the process of making bad decisions.
Posted by also anonymous, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 9:27 am
It's not that they talk too long it's that they say too little of importance. If the meetings went late but great work was accomplished that would be different. This is especially true for the school board which must be worse than the Council. They are all basically helpless idiots who can't look anything up without staff assistance, don't understand statistics but run an organization based on the interpretation of numbers, they repeat themselves and each other endlessly, they haven't read anything before the meeting, and what they do say is just endless praise of staff no matter how lacking in ability or substance the work actually is. They drag their meetings out until 1:00 in the morning yet accomplish nothing. They make hash of everything they try to do (everyday math, calendar, counseling, Mandarin Immersion, Cubberley, Brown Act, etc.). If the Council is worse I can't imagine how.
Posted by John , a resident of the Barron Park neighborhood, on Jan 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm
Agree with Dan and Annette- they waste time just agreeing with each other. And then they still can't make a decision so everyone has to come back at a later date and continue the journey through the weeds. Greg is on the right path and I wish him luck - he'll need it!
Posted by Jake, a resident of another community, on Jan 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm
Part of the problem is the City Council is too large for a City the size of Palo Alto. City Council members get benefits as well. So reducing the number of Council Members would save money. The following Cities all have larger populations than Palo Alto and have less Council members.
Palo Alto has the same size City Council as San Diego, Sacramento, Long Beach. All much larger population and number of employees.