Time for verbose councillors to exercise self control

Verbal diarrhea.

Those were the blunt words I used in council this week to express my frustrated reaction to an attempt to change a policy that allows councillors a perfectly adequate five-minute time period in which to ask questions. The same policy allows any councillor to request a second, five-minute question period if she or he feels a need for additional  time.

Council agreed to that policy a year ago to help reduce the excessive length of meetings. The same policy limits delegates — members of the public speaking to council — to five minutes but, if necessary, councillors can ask that the delegate’s time period be extended.

At council, I joined other exasperated councillors who argued in support of the existing policy in order to prevent three verbose council members  — Yvonne Fernandes, John Gazzola and Zyg Janecki — from dominating our meetings.

Fernandes, who routinely wanders beyond her time for questions, presented a motion to double the time allowed for councillors.

I argued five minutes is enough for any council member to ask questions and said certain councillors should exercise more self discipline when making themselves heard. I also argued that while a councillor should be limited to five minutes, any member of the public should be allowed up to double that time to present an opinion or issue.

Fed up with rolling my eyes at extended, pontificating question periods, I have occasionally timed certain councillors at council meetings where, together, the threesome soaked up more than two hours of council time. Obviously, if all 11 councillors did the same, we would have seven-hour council meetings that went into the early hours of the morning.

That, to me, is an exhausting, expensive, inefficient and unproductive way to make decisions and conduct council important taxpayer business.

Such behaviour hijacks meetings and gobbles up time that should be given to members of the publc appearing before council. On that note,  I have seen delegates occasionally leave the chamber and go home because they can’t afford to wait while excessively-yacking councillors pander to the media.

I’m pleased the ill-conceived Fernandes motion was not passed. Instead, in a 6-5 vote, councillors voted to have busy staff waste valuable time reviewing the existing policy before August 10.

 

 

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