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City leaders holding special meeting on citizen input policy


Ward 5 councilman Kabir Karriem

Ward 5 councilman Kabir Karriem



Nathan Gregory



City leaders have called a special meeting to address a proposed new policy regarding citizen input at regular meetings. 


Columbus councilmen will meet Monday at 2:30 p.m. at the City Hall courtroom to consider the policy after tabling the proposal last week. 


The draft specifies seven conditions for anyone wishing to speak at council meetings. The council had previously named a committee consisting of councilmen Bill Gavin, Kabir Karriem, Joseph Mickens, chief operations officer David Armstrong and city attorney Jeff Turnage to construct a draft of a policy. 


The policy would dictate that a citizen input application be delivered to mayor Robert Smith's office by 5 p.m. the Wednesday before a regular city council meeting and that Armstrong contact the applicant to determine if any complaints can be resolved prior to the meeting. Residents would be allowed to speak for a maximum of five minutes and the topic must be related to city governmental issues and cannot be used to advertise businesses or promote non-governmental events.  


The policy would also limit citizens speaking to the council to three times per year. A resident who applies to be put on the agenda, but decides not to speak would be considered to have used one of his or her three speaking opportunities. 


Councilman Gene Taylor said he was opposed to that condition. 


Karriem said the committee has not met since the matter was tabled and he will not propose any changes to the draft as it is now.  


"Out of respect for my colleagues, I wanted them to have time read it and understand it," Karriem said. "I don't see anything we need to change because I think it addresses bringing some order and decorum back to council meetings."


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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