Bending to the clear language of a charter amendment approved by voters in November, the Akron City Council decided this week to set aside time during its regular meetings for public comment. Individuals will be allowed three minutes to speak on topics within the councilís authority. The total time available will be unlimited.
The move, thankfully, reversed an earlier attempt to continue a public speaking period immediately before regular meetings. The problem? Only one council member was required to attend. That clashed with Novemberís ballot language, which called for ďpublic speaking in Council meetings.Ē In other words, what voters approved was an opportunity for members of the public to address the full council.
Although such an open forum is a first for the Akron City Council, the public long has had other opportunities to be heard, at public hearings, committee meetings and ward meetings.
Next on the agenda should be televising council meetings live. The practice is common in larger cities in the state, among them Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Meanwhile, smaller cities, such as Hudson and Green, stream their meetings live online.
Last summer, Akron began taping council meetings, which are available on the cityís website. Marco Sommerville, the City Council president, is waiting to see how that works before deciding whether to go live. The idea has been discussed, on and off, since 2006. Itís past time for live, televised meetings, giving the public even greater access to city business.