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Emmetsburg City Council Ensures Public Has Right To Speak

By Staff | Oct 19, 2010

Emmetsburg City Council addressed the issue of whether or not the public is allowed to speak at committee meetings. The issue was discussed at the Oct. 11 meeting.

Mayor John Schad brought the topic to the council, noting that the public should be allowed to speak.

“It’s not up to the chairman of the committee,” said Schad. “Anybody coming to a committee should be allowed to speak.”

“I wouldn’t mind having that there, but when we’re in debate,” said Councilman Steve Finer.

“I’m just looking for them to have the opportunity to speak,” said Schad.

“It’s not appropriate to engage in discussion, but they would have an opportunity to speak,” added Council representative Sandy Pelzer. “They would have to fill out a request form or be part of an established agenda.”

City Administrator John Bird added, “If the city council has held a public hearing and the item is kicked back to committee to work out details, would you let them speak again? I’m not opposed to this. It is a good thing. But keep in mind that you folks have been elected to lead. Use your heads. You can debate an issue to death.”

Pelzer said speakers would be limited to five minutes and the chairman has the ability to terminate conversations.

Finer added that speakers should be limited to what is on the agenda.

The following will be placed on all city council and committee meeting agendas:

As a citizen, your attendance and interest in the affairs of the City of Emmetsburg are welcome and appreciated.

A person desiring to address the Committee shall fill out a request form and hand to the Chairperson. Persons can address the Committee provided that the subject of the comments is part of the published agenda

Persons will be recognized by the chair to address the Committee only on the proper order of business and are expected remain on topic. There shall be a limit of five (5) minutes for each participant and ten (10) minutes for any topic. Citizens shall not make personal, impertinent, irrelevant or slanderous remarks and the chair reserves the right to terminate discussion at any time.

Michael Flannegan from the International Institute of Technology & Arts in Emmetsburg, used the opportunity to address the council. He had submitted a written request to be placed on the agenda, noting that he wanted to talk about possible discrimination against small business relevant to economic and/or social injustices by elected and/or appointed officials.

“Small business is not represented in Emmetsburg,” Flannegan told the council. “Special interests still prevail.”

Flannegan told the council that agenda items are given “minimal time because items were cut and dried beforehand. We have seen no development in this community.”

He said that small business in Iowa includes John Deere, then asked, “Who represents small business?”

He also noted that a tremendous amount of special interest money is spent, then asked, “Who lobbies for the rural communities that are controlled by local government?”

Flannegan also addressed downtown and the proposed community center.

“A Green Design Community” was distributed to members of the council. In that document, Flannegan had written, “Green design is restoring the grandeur of rural America’s small communities by improving or redesigning an otherwise old way into a new way via creative thinking ‘we can versus we can’t or why try’.”

Flannegan proposes refocusing energies to find new ways to utilize existing resources for economic development and job creation.

“A green designed community integrates the pursuit of family values while embracing new arts and technologies to prototype the reborn green designed community way, thus establishing a purpose and vision that would include all needs of society in a caring, responsible and accountable relationship.”