Council meetings need streamlining

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Selma’s City Council meetings are running about as long as a typical movie theater double feature &045;&045; and not nearly as entertaining.

Unless, of course, you consider the amount of back-and-forth bickering that goes on during a typical meeting, or the always-good-for-a-wince tension generated whenever council members and Mayor Perkins hook horns.

It would all be good for a hearty laugh if it weren’t so paralyzing.

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Monday’s meeting provided a good case-in-point. The meeting started at 5 p.m. and ended four hours later at 9 p.m. In between, audience members (those who remained past the first hour or so) were treated to discourse on parliamentary procedure, &uot;buckets&uot; of youth employment, pretty lawns and butterflies.

By the time Mayor Perkins was done with his &uot;Mayor’s Report,&uot; it was already 7:15 p.m. Two hours and 15 minutes just to get to the city attorney’s report, which no doubt had the few remaining citizens in the council chamber riveted to their seats.

All this before the council even got to its main business items for the night.

Here are some ideas we think might help speed things up:


Limit the mayor and city attorney’s reports to one hour &045;&045; total. If they threaten to go over, get out the hook. Much of this information should be handled in other venues, like work sessions.


If council members don’t like that idea, then begin council meetings with business items &045;&045; which are probably what many citizens come to hear &045;&045; and let the mayor and city attorney offer their reports later in the meeting.


Consider starting council meetings at 4 p.m. rather than 5. A 9 p.m. ending time may not sound late, but it’s made considerably more tiring once you’ve sat through four hours of often confusing debate.


Use council work sessions to hash out all that can be hashed out. Once council members enter council chambers, they should be ready to vote with as little debate and unnecessary discussion as possible.


Run a tight ship. Stick to parliamentary procedure and don’t waver from it.

The Selma City Council is charged with making sure Selma runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The Council, itself, should run just as well.