[Update as of 3pm, September 21st: The video of the public comment session is now available on YouTube courtesy of HomesNow . One wonders how long it will be tolerated because the contents of some of the comments on this video are just like those that got the city council meetings removed by YouTube… false info on COVID.]
The public comment session of September 21st, the first that has been divorced from an actual council meeting, is now in the ether, as the city did not record it. (See city council Action Summary of September 13, 2021) Unless some enterprising individual or organization recorded the session, the proceedings now exist only in the minds of the attendees. The only remnant of the public comment meeting was the useless one page agenda packet on the council's website. One positive note was that the attendees were, if they chose to be, visible to others through their computer cameras. And the three sacrificial lambs of City Council in attendance (Lilliquist, Stone, and Huthman) were visible to the public for the entire process, one which would prove to be difficult at times.
The meeting lasted just over one hour. It began with several citizens praising the drug Ivermectin for treating COVID-19, as if the City Council has a hand in the matter. Others spoke to the issue of homelessness and yet others to the usual panoply of issues that used to come before the full council and consequently the public. The number of attendees varied at times but was consistently in the high 30s as people came and went. The number included staff and the council members themselves. Whether the public was there merely out of curiosity was difficult to determine but perhaps 50% of the attendees spoke at one time or another.
Invective flew about at various times with the adolescent use of profanity - grammatical variations of “fuck” and one “asshole.” Profanity-users were, surprisingly, allowed to continue their rants. Council members remained calm as they were verbally assaulted. I heard one somewhat vague threat in one set of comments. One commenter was continually interrupted as a fellow attendee periodically activated his/her microphone and laughed like a hyena. The commenter was quickly dispatched to computer limbo by the technical moderator. This behavior will not go very far in convincing the council to return public comments to its former spot in the City Council meeting agenda but I imagine this thought has not occurred to the perpetrators who remain dim to the actual effect of their middle school comportment.
Identifying exactly who was speaking was at times difficult. Those who did not turn on their videos were represented by a black screen with the individual's name in white letters. The problem is, not everyone used their full names so we had first names or initials along with an occasion mystery guest such as Owner, Communism Will Win, and Seymour Butts. The council moderator, Hannah Stone, asked speakers for their full names but the response was often inaudible to me.
As the meeting wound down, there was actually a give-and-take between some members of the public and the council members present. One commenter referred to County Council meetings where council members, at times, respond to public comments on the spot. He suggested that City Council not be so reticent in doing the same. The suggestion did not create wild acceptance among the council members.
A Herald reporter, Robert Mittendorf, actually attended but his motive was not apparent. He did not speak. One assumes he will pen an article.
I maintain, as I have said in several articles (see below) that public comment must remain an integral part of City Council meetings which I am certain attract more than the 30 people who came to this new version of commenting on the 21st.