Friday, March 14, 2014

Boy Scout Drew Cottle proposes a Boy Scout Day with activities and an overnight campout for all Dunwoody scouts in Brook Run Park.

When the City started I pushed for public comments to be made at three times during our meetings, up to thirty minutes at the start, up to thirty minutes at the end and the availability to comment on items that were amended by Council from what was published on line that we were about to be vote upon.

I truly enjoy the citizen comments at City Council meetings as they provide me the opportunity to hear what is on the minds of the community directly from those who are brave enough to stand at the podium.  There is no hiding behind anonymous blog comments but there may appear to some from time to time to be downsides but I wouldn't want to change the practice we currently have in place.

Boy Scout Drew Cottle from Boy Scout Troop 477 based out of Kingswood United Methodist Church along with other scouts visited Monday's Dunwoody City Council Meeting to fulfill requirements for his Eagle Scout Required Merit Badge, Citizenship in the Community.

When the attendees of the meeting were offered three minutes to address the Council, Drew stepped to the podium and requested that the City allow a Dunwoody Boy Scout Day at Brook Run Park for all Dunwoody area scouts to gather as a cohesive group, attend scout activities & workshops, provide public service by cleaning the park or doing specific projects and then be allowed the special privilege to sleep overnight in Dunwoody's largest natural facility.

Kudo's to young Mr. Cottle for standing at the podium and putting forth an idea that I believe has merit.  Something tells me that I will be sleeping in the park one night this summer?


Joe Hirsch said...

I'm glad you highlighted this. Very nice. As you know, I am an Eagle Scout. I am also thankful you edited his home address out of this version of public comments. Next time, the appropriate thing for you to do is to stop Mayor Davis from asking for information he has no authority to ask for. Why have you never stopped the Mayor from asking for residents' home addresses? You know what the rules are, yet you allow the Mayor to cross them every single public comment. Change the rules if you don't like them, but you should make sure others abide by the ones we have, or stop the mayor from abusing his power. (This would be a fantastic example for the Boy Scouts to learn from.) It was truly disgusting to see Mayor Davis ask for this young man’s home address. John, will you stop the Mayor from this practice at the next meeting?

Bob Lundsten said...

Ahhhhh Joe !!!! there are so many other things in this city and in life to rant about.
Give it a rest. Keep giving the mayors address as your own and your protest is duly noted.

Now John if you really want to improve the public meetings, move your Council Comments to the END of the meeting.


Greg said...


I've always wondered about something...and Jay Pryor's comments at the Feb. 24 meeting piqued my interest.

I sent in a Open Records Request to Ms. Sharon Lowery asking the basis for the rules regarding Public Comment.

Ms. Lowery was kind enough to point me to City of Dunwoody Resolution 2009-01-08, which covers the conduct at City Council Meetings.

Interestingly enough, I had also checked the State of Georgia Codes(specifically 50-14-1c, ff) for information on Public Comment.

In neither of those two documents can I find a requirement that Public Comment is "a one-way dialog" or as Mayor Davis said on Feb. 24 "it's actually against the law for us to respond (to public comments).

The Mayor has also said on more than one occasion that "Public Comment is a privilege not a requirement...."

Both statements seem to be at odds with the resolutions and codes, in my non-attorney opinion.

In the first item, there is a statement in a PowerPoint presentation from the Georgia Libraries Association on Georgia's Open Meetings act that says,

"Members of the public do not have the right to participate in the meeting, just to observe. You can give them the right to participate through public comment."

Unfortunately for the Georgia Libraries Association, the actual wording of the code DOES NOT SUPPORT that conclusion. 50-14-1c affirms the right of the public to be present and to make visual and audio recordings.

Perhaps there is another citation that supports the "one-way dialog" requirement that I haven't found?

As to the second point, let me be more strong in my rebuttal to Mayor Davis' assertions. Per Resolution 2009-01-08, Public Comment is a substantive part of the meeting agenda and many ONLY be moved or waived with the approval of the full Council...not at the whim of the Mayor.

The Mayor does have the right and responsibility to maintain order, but he overreaches when he asserts that he can cancel or reschedule public comment to compel the audience to restrain their enthusiasm.

I bring these items up in the sincere belief that the procedures of the Dunwoody City Council are not in conformance with the Codes of the City of Dunwoody and the State of Georgia, regarding Public Comment.

I readily admit that I am not an attorney, and it is quite possible that there are other regulations (unknown to me) that may support this behavior. If so, I will gratefully stand corrected.

John Heneghan said...

Thanks gents for commenting, it looks like the rules and procedures for Dunwoody City Council Meetings may need to be tweeked and/or I am having an issue in finding the latest set.

I have been reviewing my archives, finding three interesting documents below but the latest approved "Rules" would be the standing set for Council to live by and I believe they could quote current procedure if that is the wishes of Council though guessing they need to be tweeked. Without the latest set in hand, it is hard for me to tell others on how to run the meeting. It will be reviewed. Thanks

Greg said...

Thank you John for your quick response. BTW, the City Attorney also serves as "Parlimentarian" for the meetings; he should be a resource for answering this question.

Looking over the documents you cited, much of that material comes straight out of the Georgia 2012 Open Meetings Act. I couldn't find anything limiting the content of Public Comment in that Act, either.

I have read other cities rules of conduct for their meetings, and many allow the Council to ask questions of the Commenter, to clarify or better understand the point of the comment. They also allow for short exchange of information by way of response if it's pertinent to the question.

Boy howdy! I know the can of worms that we'd open if we encouraged open debate during Public Comment, but short questions and passing of pertinent information between council and commenter would seem to be a good compromise.

John Heneghan said...

I have requested the latest version of the Rules be sent to Council and that a discussion be added to the April 14th meeting to discuss what is in place as well as possible changes that may be needed.

Unknown said...

In my comment I cited the procedures followed by the Sandy Springs City Council. I would need to confirm this, but as I recall, they allow a total of 10 minutes per person for public comment, which might be better described as public discussion. The trade-off for the public is that the public comment segment comes at the end of the meeting, so for one thing people who have something to say must stay through the entire meeting (not a terrible requirement, but onerous for some); and secondly, since public comment comes at the end of the meeting the Council would have already made a determination about issues addressed that evening, prior to hearing from those citizens who want to express their views.