New Berlin aldermen should revisit the Council’s rule that prohibits candidates for public office from participating in privilege of the floor (public comment period) at City Council meetings.
It seems wrong to prevent one group of citizens from speaking at City government meetings while allowing everyone else. Those candidates could be New Berlin residents, taxpayers, voters --- and should not be prohibited from speaking on agenda topics just because they chose to run for public office!
Shouldn’t the Council be encouraging citizen input instead of suppressing speech?
Obviously, this Council rule does not serve the public’s best interests.
It could also be perceived as giving incumbent City elected officials an unfair advantage. After all, at New Berlin Committee of the Whole and Common Council meetings (open sessions are televised), Council members have the opportunity to talk about agenda issues, express their opinions—and even grandstand sometimes--- while their challengers are forced to remain silent.
Individual privilege of the floor speeches are limited to 3 minutes and are supposed to be on City-related matters.
Unfortunately, some New Berlin aldermen act like City Hall is their own facility—not the public’s. Are they so insecure and obsessed with control, they won't allow their aldermanic challengers to speak publicly there?
Not only has the Council retained the rule banning candidates from speaking, in 2006 the Council approved a resolution for a policy that limits City Hall to government units, denying citizen groups the use of our taxpayer-funded City Hall & City Cable Channel--- and killing Voters Forums at City Hall.
The nearby City of Franklin does not prohibit candidates from speaking during the public comment period of its Council meetings. Indeed, a Franklin aldermanic candidate's blog post communicates a speech he gave last month to the Franklin Council.
The New Berlin School District does not have a rule or policy prohibiting candidates from using privilege of the floor at School Board meetings.
When Matt Thomas tried (unsuccessfully) to get the School Board to approve a policy to ban Board members from using privilege of the floor several years ago, I asked the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to conduct a policy search. WASB did its search and informed me that it was unable to find any school board policy in the state which prohibited school board members from using privilege of the floor.
I had also taken the time and effort to contact the Waukesha District Attorney and asked for his opinion on the subject. In his response letter, he advised against adopting a policy to prohibit school board members from using privilege of the floor at school board meetings.
But New Berlin aldermen think having a rule that prevents candidates from speaking at City Council meetings is a good idea? For whom?