South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Council public comment split into two sections

One section is for agenda items, while the other is open
Photo by Erin Achenbach
Sixth District St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas, the council’s presiding officer at the time, listens to public comment from mothers of St. Louis County policemen at a 2019 council meeting.

The public will now be able to provide input at St. Louis County Council meetings prior to the council taking action on any legislative items.

A resolution introduced by 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, and passed by the council June 20, allows for two separate sections of public comment at council meetings: one that can only be about council business and agenda items that would take place prior to the council voting on any bills, and one after the council has taken any votes. The second public comment section is open to any topic, even if the topic is not on that week’s council agenda.

“The purpose behind the change is to create a vehicle so that citizens with concerns about items on the agenda that require the council to vote can be heard before any vote is taken,” Trakas said. “I’m moving this resolution so that citizens have a fair chance to address their legislative body prior to a vote on an agenda item.”

Those who want to speak during a council meeting will have to indicate which public forum they want to speak during. Members of the public cannot comment during both forum periods in one meeting. For the segment dealing with agenda items, the public must identify what agenda item or items they want to speak on when they register to speak prior to the meeting’s start.

Total public comment time will remain at one hour, with three minutes allotted per speaker. Council Chairwoman Shalonda Webb said typically 45 minutes will be allotted for the forum period pertaining to agenda items while 15 minutes would be allotted for the free period, although that can be adjusted depending on the number of speakers signed up to speak in each segment.

“We have definitely tightened up our decorum and so when (Trakas) brought this to me, I thought this sounds very reasonable,” Webb said. “Now if someone were to be irate then we are going to go back to our original rules.”

Webb said she would be in charge of enforcement, ensuring that citizens actually speak on the topic they signed up for.

First District Councilwoman Rita Heard Days, D-Bel-Nor, said there have been instances where the public has provided her with information during public comment that has altered the way she votes or drafts certain legislation.

“Thank you Councilman Trakas for bringing this forward,” Days said.

Webb added this was a good example of the council working together for the betterment of the county.

“This is what I like to see happen … we are compromising and working together for the betterment of this county,” Webb said.

The resolution passed unanimously. Fifth District Councilwoman Lisa Clancy was absent.

More to Discover