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Marathon meetings no more?

By ngonzales
Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 at 4:22 pm in Uncategorized.

A new City Council in Menlo Park may have brought a power shift, but there’s been no change in how meetings drag on into the wee hours.

Just like the previous administration, the meetings start at 7 p.m. but can easily run until midnight or later.

Did we mention the council meets almost every week?

However, current council members want to tighten their meetings up as part of an overall effort to improve public access to city business.

Councilman Heyward Robinson recommends starting the meeting an hour earlier when a group or individual is scheduled to make an informational presentation. He added that part of the problem with the long meetings has been council members wanting to talk about items on the consent agenda that are supposedly ready for approval.

“We have all urged each other not to pull things” from the consent agenda if there is no pressing need, Robinson said. “We have to have discipline there.”

Councilman Richard Cline and Vice Mayor Andy Cohen agree on that point in their proposed “Open Government Initiative.”

In their initiative, Cline and Cohen recommend limiting “the overuse of the consent calendar for issues more fit for regular business and (putting) a hard stop on council meetings at 11 p.m. No exceptions. We cannot continue to make decisions after the community has gone to sleep.”

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