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Public Deserves To Be Heard
Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
The consent calendar is probably the most overlooked item on a city council agenda, but it often contains important items.
Councilmembers in Riverside, California are being asked to look at the practice of adopting all consent items with one motion, in part because a project on tonight's agenda has a $220 million price tag, and could be passed without much discussion.
Generally the consent calendar is reserved for “routine items” such as authorizing the payment of bills, but tonight’s meeting is an example of a complex and expensive project folded in with minor or administrative items.
Traditionally the public has a right to comment on any item on the agenda, but in July 2005 the council decided only the staff and councilmembers could “pull an item” off the consent agenda for discussion.
Mayor Ron Loveridge defends the process, saying these projects have been discussed at previous meetings and are not “new.”
The purpose of public meetings is to ensure the public can participate. When the issue comes up tonight, I hope the mayor and council will reconsider their policy and once again allow open discussion on all items.
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