By: Diane Benjamin
At the Bloomington City Council meeting last night around 50 minutes was spent discussing the best way to take away your right to speak. I have no idea what they actually voted on, it sounded to me like the changes to the ordinance were tabled until July. But that wasn’t the motion on the floor. It’s possible they voted for changes to the ordinance, minus the part about speaking to an agenda item. The bird-cage liner thinks the whole thing was tabled. The minutes should be interesting!
Obviously the ordinance changes were aimed at Cities 92.9 and Alton Franklin. To Renner, it’s such a tragedy to waste 3 minutes listening. Alderman Lower made a motion early in the discussion to table the issue until the next Work Session so citizens could be heard. The vote was 4-4, (Sage was absent) Renner cast the deciding vote against. He was joined by Buragas, Black, Hauman, and Painter. Keep in mind the Council and the public saw the changes for the first time on Friday. Even Jim Fruin thought they needed to discuss changes, not jam them through.
Robert’s Rules of Order are immaterial at Bloomington Council meetings. Abbott & Costello would be proud of the comedy routine they inspired as performed by much of the council. Several Council members tried to get a clarification of the motion, but it ended with nobody knowing what they voted on.
I need to start earlier in the evening though. A meeting was held at 5:30, public comment was allowed before the Council went into their secret meeting – Executive Session.
The Edgar County Watchdogs spoke – Kirk Allen and John Kraft. Judy Stearns also spoke. I video taped their comments, when YouTube finishes processing I will post it. Since public comment videos always focus on the speaker, I taped Renner and the Council’s non-verbal reactions. I did the same thing for Public Comment at the 7:00 pm meeting – I will post some video on that later too.
If you aren’t familiar with Kirk and John, they are responsible for uncovering the corruption at the College of Dupage. The Chicago Tribune featured their work on the front page. They are also the guys who did a citizens arrest of the a Park Board for violating the Open Meetings Act. Google them for more information.
At the 7:00 pm meeting Alderman Hauman didn’t apologize for walking out when a black representative from Cities 92.9 spoke at a previous meeting. Maybe she was trying to redeem herself last night when she interrupted Renner to move to suspend the public comment rules. 11 people had signed up to speak. I think all but 3 wanted to speak on the Public Comment ordinance change.
Maybe Kirk and John scared her at the earlier meeting. Maybe she realized it wasn’t intelligent to ban 2 Watchdogs that drove 2 hours to be in Bloomington. (She would be correct!) Since she had to interrupt Renner, he had ever intention of not letting them speak, we’ve seen how he “shuffles” the comment cards before.
Kirk Allen’s comments are a must see. Many of the other speakers were great too. Public comment begins at 12:50. Please take the time to listen. Fast forward if necessary. John’s comments are in the middle, Kirk is second from last.