YUMA – (KSWT News 13) - A City of Yuma news release states the following:
"There are no changes in call to the public other than when during the meeting it will appear on the agenda."
Easily said, but it means people who want to address the council on non-agenda items must sit through the entire council meeting to be heard. They can last from minutes to hours. The last two meetings have been run longer than two hours.
On Wednesday, the council made it official and moved "Call to the Public" from the first order of business to the last.
"Moving it from one part to another is really how I hope people would look at it. Is that an inconvenience? Yes. Perhaps." says Dave Nash, Public Information Officer for the City of Yuma.
But the City doesn't have to wonder or hope how people look at it. They expressed their feelings clearly and in advance.
"If it wasn't for us, there would be no you. We should speak first," said one woman during discussion of Call to the Public last night before the vote.
Dave Nash says the vote has created a perception problem for the city.
"We have a perception here now that issues that people want to bring up now for some reason are being seen as taking a back seat," says Nash.
"How important do you feel if you go someplace and they say, oh, go sit in the back of the room?" asked another woman during Call to the Public discussion.
Not one person who addressed the city council at the last two meetings was in favor of moving Call to the Public. Not one.
So why did the city council vote to move it?
"I don't know if it was Stuart or Johnson, you'd have to get that comment from either one of them, but one of those two made a reference to what they believe is silent majority."
A silent majority? But Call to the Public is not for the silent, it's for the vocal.
"So I conclude that maybe at the end of the meeting, people don't want to hang around anymore, they leave, so you won't have to hear them," voiced a man during the Call to the Public pre-vote discussion.
Nash says there are several ways to contact city leaders, beyond Call To The Public, like voice mail, e-mail and the City's web site.
But none of them are face-to-face, and all of them can be ignored.
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