More talk about talking amendment

Incessant talking was the topic of a July 24 Rockford City Council Codes and Regulations Committee meeting. Committee members discussed, and ultimately laid, over Ald. Daniel Conness’ (D-14) proposal to shift Officer’s Reports, which allow aldermen to speak about any topic for any length. Conness read in a resolution, during the July 3 City Council meeting, that would amend Rule 2, Section 2-42 of the City Council’s Rules of Procedures.

The amendment would move Officer’s Reports after New Business. City Attorney Ron Schultz clarified that the reports would be relocated between New Business and adjournment.

“I wanted to get it on the table and see what could be done about the problem,” Conness said.

Ald. Patrick Curran (R-2), a committee member, said the issue would be moot if Rule 2’s current 5-minute limit were enforced. But fellow member, Ald. Nancy Johnson (D-8), said she didn’t see any language in the rules pertaining to enforcement of the rule, noting the value of keeping comments that were not necessarily germane to a minimum.

“I think that we need to respect the guests that come down,” she said.

But Ald. Ann Thompson (D-7) said the City Council had operated well in its present form for this long, and wondered why the change was warranted. Thompson also noted Officer’s Reports allow her to learn more about her colleagues and issues that could affect her ward. Furthermore, she wasn’t convinced Conness’ proposal would alleviate the problem: “One of us is going to get up and talk too much.”

Ald. Carl Wasco (R-4) concurred: “Let’s not fool ourselves that pontification is going to go away. If you cut them off during Officer’s Reports, new business going to take (on) a whole, new meaning.”

Thompson also questioned Conness’ intent: “(The proposal) should not be motivated by personal feeling. It should be motivated by what we have in place.”

Johnson again stressed there was no way to enforce the rule on the books.

Schultz said Robert’s Rules of Order set no time limit for a speaker. However, he reminded the committee that the Council has the power to set a time limit.

From the Aug. 2-8, 2006, issue

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