The proposal, initiated by Councilman David Golonski, would trim the
five-minute allotment per person to three minutes in the first of three
public speaking periods. Proponents contend less time at the podium will
enable officials to conduct city business quicker and prevent the weekly
meetings from approaching the witching hour.
However, opponents said the speaking limit would be a blow to
community involvement in government and to freedom of speech.
Burbank resident Kevin McCarney said the proposal is intended to
stifle those who hurl insults at the council.
"Because some people use the microphone with disrespect, how can you
justify taking away everyone's right?" McCarney asked the council. "If
you are destroying the freedom of speech for a few of us you are
destroying it for all of us."
Golonski proposed that the first session be reduced since it is
traditionally the longest.
"What we are saying is the business of the city is important,"
Golonski said. "We make a lot of decisions that people don't see because
Golonski suggested a trial period of 60 days for the three-minute
"If you know it ahead of time, you'll make your point," Golonski said.
"I don't think it will, but if we feel it's stifling oral communications,
we'll change it back. I'm not looking to take away anyone's right to
speak or address this council."
Councilman David Laurell stood behind Golonski's proposal. Mayor
Stacey Murphy and Vice Mayor Bill Wiggins said they were not in favor of
the measure but they agreed to keep it as an option. Murphy said shorter
time limits would only pare the length of meetings by half an hour at
The council agreed to reconsider the proposal along with several
others, such as starting the 7 p.m. meetings an hour earlier and
videotaping some council presentations before the meetings. No definite
timetable was set to decide the matter.
Kramer, who cast the dissenting vote, said he wouldn't consider
reducing speaking time.
"What message are you sending? That the people aren't important,"
Kramer said. "It seems wrong to deprive the people of five minutes
because maybe we don't like what they're saying."
Burbank resident Peggy Nudo said it is the council members' duty to
listen to citizens.
"Public speaking is city business, even if some of the matters are
trivial," Nudo said. "In a council meeting, one of the most important
things is hearing from the constituents. If you represent the people you
have to want to hear the people."