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Beach Beacon
Consent agenda raises concern
Article published on Tuesday, June 8, 2010
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TREASURE ISLAND – A discussion on a resolution that would update the Treasure Island’s rules of procedure for meetings got a little emotional June 1 when talk centered around use of a consent agenda that would eliminate public input.

Under the plan, any item not requiring individual action or a public hearing, such as a resolution granting approval for a parade or something similar, would be designated for action on a consent agenda.

City commissioners, the city attorney and the city manager would be allowed to remove an item from the consent agenda to the regular agenda, which would open it up for public comment.

Under the proposal, members of the public would be struck from having the same power, which got the attention of a pair of city residents.

“This doesn’t make the city look good,” said Marie Barba. “The appearance is very bad.”

Former city Commissioner Ed Gayton, speaking as a member of the general public, agreed.

“This will strike members of the public (from the decision-making process)?” Gayton asked. “I haven’t heard of one good reason for removing it. Don’t go back to the ages when it appears you’re trying to hide something.”

City Attorney Maura Kiefer said the measure would help to speed up the city’s meetings. It is common in other municipal governments, including Indian Rocks Beach where Kiefer also serves as city attorney.

“This will help save time. If we have five items (on the consent agenda), it will be one vote,” she said. “This will involve only administrative type things ... routine things not involving money or budget.”

Kiefer said public comment would remain at another point in meetings.

“I cannot vote for this without the public being able to vote (to remove) a consent agenda item,” said Commissioner Phil Collins. “I feel the public has as much right as we do to discuss a consent agenda item.”

“Why are we concerned?” asked Commissioner Carol Coward. “Why don’t we leave it the way it is?”

Commissioner Alan Bildz agreed.

“It’s always been in there that a member of the public can remove a consent agenda item,” he said.

“We need public opinion,” said Coward. “Whatever we can do to encourage the participation of the public is good.”

Commissioners decided to leave the consent agenda item the way it currently reads, allowing public comment, and bring the resolution back for further discussion at a future meeting.
Article published on Tuesday, June 8, 2010
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