The long-standing Farmington City policy is not to allow public comment on items that are on the current agenda. Following plans to move one of Farmington’s liquor stores and the response of citizens who were outraged they were not permitted to speak at some meetings about the topic, Farmington’s Mayor Todd Larson wants to change the rule.
City policy allows citizen comment on items not on the agenda, and residents are invited to speak at public hearings, but bans citizen comment for issues on the agenda.
Current policy makes him feel between a rock and a hard place, he said, because if he allows public comment when there is no public hearing scheduled, people who did not attend complain because they did not know there would be an opportunity to speak.
The Mayor says he feels there has to be a better way to gain citizen input. It is possible that doing away with this regulation may be a step in the right direction however it will need approval from the rest of the City Council before it could be put into practice.
Even though Mayor Todd Larson’s plans to open up discussion to the public seems like something every city council across the nation should be doing and this motion should pass without incident, prior action by the Farmington City Council (and many public political groups across the state and nation), have been known to do whatever they can to keep the public out of the loop regarding the happenings within areas which they have a right to know.
Let’s take for example Apple Valley. Apple Valley spent $30,000 on a brand new website (original quote was nearly $80,000) and at the time I was told council agenda packets would begin appearing because they would be easier to post on the web once the new system was in place. It’s more than a year later and it still looks like you have to contact the City Clerk to get copies of agenda background information. Almost every other city in the South Metro (I am not about to go looking today but you’ll have to trust me) posts their agenda background information on the web prior to the meetings, yet Apple Valley still refuses. This is just one way they can keep citizens in the dark about the political happenings in town while claiming it’s just too much work for their staff. Hard to argue that stance when so many other cities have been doing it for years and with websites that cost less money.
What do you think about Farmington Mayor Todd Larson’s plans to allow public discussion at meetings where a particular item is on the agenda? Do you think the current rule is ridiculous considering the concept of a public meeting? Do you think that citizens should have their time to speak at any meting regardless of the agenda (within a reasonable time limit)? Are you a Farmington or other South Metro resident concerned that based on their prior actions, the rest of the City Council will sweep this plan under the rug? Are you surprised that after $30,000 and a year, Apple Valley still doesn’t post agenda packet information in advance of meetings on the web and requires contacting the Clerk while almost every other city around does? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on below as I’d love to hear your thoughts.