The ever so quiet, but very intent and dedicated, attack on the Committee of the Whole:
Following last Monday’s council meeting, Mr. Hedlund, one of Lake Geneva’s city council members quietly spoke about the Lake Geneva Committee of the Whole. Mr. Hedlund sees no need for the public to present anything to the city council, as the council members are elected and need no further contact with the public until they leave office, or are re-elected. One might think that hearing from the public would be something all elected officials representing the public might want, but in reality that is usually far from the truth.
The Lake Geneva Committee of the Whole meeting is a meeting held every month that is specifically set aside so citizens can step up to the podium and talk about anything they want the council to know about, for five minutes each. It takes a lot of gumption for a regular citizen to get up there and talk on television, in front of the council and everyone else present. Regular city council meetings use the agenda tool to limit comments from the public. Agenda items are allowed to be discussed by citizens at the beginning of every meeting, but citizens standing up to talk can only talk about those specific items. And the citizens have nothing to do with getting any item on the schedule as an agenda item.
The Lake Use Committee attempted to use agenda item limiting as one of its tools to ignore the public (think Ducks Unlimited Chuck, who was on that committee before he went back to loving ducks so much). Fortunately that bit of slippery behavior failed, and regular people can still go to Lake Use meetings and speak about anything that comes to mind.
Attempts to limit public comment, like Mr. Hedlund’s vague recommendation, should be fought at every level by everyone.
Side Note: Alderman Hedlund is such a quiet and vague person no photo can be found on city website?
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