Citizen request could move to council meetings

Published 11:30 am Saturday, May 6, 2017

In 2013 the Selma City Council voted to alter the rules and procedures of the council meeting to move the citizen’s request portion of the meeting to the work session.

On Tuesday, the council could vote to move the citizen’s request portion back to council meetings.

City Attorney Jimmy Nunn presented an ordinance to council members Thursday night at the council work session that would repeal the ordinance adopted in 2013 and amend the original ordinance.

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“Citizens in the past would come to city council meetings and do their citizen reports just like Dr. Lett did tonight,” Nunn told the council. “It has been requested by Councilman [Johnny] Leashore to revisit that ordinance and to revise that ordinance to place the citizens back on the city council agenda instead of the work session.”

While council work sessions are public meetings, they are not broadcast on the radio like council meetings are on Tuesday nights. When the ordinance to move the citizen’s request portion to the work session, it was done in an effort to speed up council meetings.

“When you have an opportunity to come before your government to share your concerns, citizens would like for the citizens of Selma to be aware,” Leashore said.

“As you very well know, this is a work session. No official business can take place. There is no vote that could be done. It’s not televised on the PEG (public, educational and government access) channel, it’s not on the radio, so nobody knows what’s going on unless they’re here.”

Leashore said his constituents asked him to seek a change in the policy when he was running for office.

Councilman Sam Randolph suggested having citizens that are requesting funding to make requests at the work session. He also suggested giving citizens the option of speaking before the council at the work session or the council meeting.

“What if we give the citizens the opportunity to pick which one they want to come before us,” Randolph said. “Some folks might not want to come before the council while we’re on the radio.”

Leashore said his concern is just allowing citizens access during the council meeting, so business can be made.