The Hoboken City Council will consider slightly reducing public comment on agenda items, where each speaker would now universally receive five minutes, as opposed to the current rules of five minutes for one agenda item and seven minutes for multiple agenda items.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Another rule change the resolution, introduced by Council President Mike Russo, proposes is now having electeds limited to casting their vote once a vote is called, without further commentary allowed.
“A Council member may not give statements, raise questions, or provide any other commentary other than casting a vote in accordance with this rule,” the resolution says.
“Where a Council member violates this rule, disrupts the flow of a roll call, or otherwise fails to cast a vote in accordance with this rule within a reasonable period of time after being called to vote, the Council President shall have the discretion to direct the Clerk continue the roll call to the next Council member.”
Additionally, while the public portion would remain static at five minutes, a new provision would prevent the council president from giving public speakers additional time.
Russo, the 3rd Ward representative who was appointed his first term as council president earlier this month, had said that he sought to streamline meetings this year, which typically last for around three to four hours.
“This is really just to accommodate what we’ve been doing since we went virtual. If you read the rules, the chair has the ability to cut off discussion after an hour. This way more people can participate and it stops people from continuing to speak and shutting out others,” he said over the phone this evening.
“I want to be as efficient as possible where the meetings are running well and also productive. In no means, in any way, am I going to stop anyone from expressing their opinion. I just want to stop the constant back and forth and move things along respectfully.”
There is local precedent to scaling back the public portion section of government meetings.
The Jersey City Council voted to reduce public comment from five minutes to three for each speaker back in February 2020, while the Hudson County Board of Commissioners took the same action a year ago.
The Hoboken council will convene tomorrow at 7 p.m. via Zoom, with the meeting streaming live on their YouTube and Facebook pages.