A couple of weeks back we noted that some Dallas Independent School District trustees would love to do away with public speakers at meetings, because, in the words of board president Lew Blackburn, "Occasionally we have people come speak to the board, and it's more of a three-minute bullying, if you will." Blackburn has promised to clamp down on speakers, shutting off the mic and giving those bullies the boot if they get out of hand. We shall see come Thursday.
At the time I also noted that the Dallas City Council -- which, unlike the volunteer trustees, draws a salary -- has done little to limit public speakers. But that too could change: Tomorrow the council will be briefed on proposed changes for public speakers. They are, all things considered, relatively minor tweaks. Nevertheless, tweaks they be.
Right now, for instance, would-be speakers have till 9 a.m. the morning of a meeting to sign up; the new rules would move that deadline up to 5 p.m. the evening before. And, as the rules presently read, anyone who's addressed the council within the last 30 days can only do so again at the end of a council meeting. The new rule cuts down their speaking time to a single minute.
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Why the need for the rule changes? Well, the City Secretary's Office offers four reasons, among them: "City Manager's Office staff would have more time to prepare to respond to citizens' concerns and requests for information/service and have appropriate staff available at meetings." So, see, it's for your benefit. It's always for your benefit. The council will vote on the proposals December 14; the rules would take effect January 4.