A recent diatribe against state and federal governments has led Decatur City Council to establish some guidelines for members of the public who wish to speak at council meetings.
Some basic restrictions were put in place, but they are restrictions which can be moved aside at the discretion of the person in charge of the meeting.
Mayor John Schultz raised the idea of some guidelines at this week's council meeting, saying, "We want to continue to open our meetings to the public, but sometimes things come up which don't pertain to city business. Sometimes, people use public meetings to voice a particular point of view."
Councilman Bill Crone asked if the person chairing the meeting — in council's case, the mayor — could use his/her discretion to make changes even in the face of restrictions. After he was told yes, Crone moved to limit speakers at council meetings to five minutes; Councilman Matt Dyer seconded.
In some brief discussion, Crone said that if a person had some good points to make, that five minutes should be extended; again, at the discretion of the chairman. He was told that was definitely a possibility, and City Attorney Tim Baker agreed.
Back on October 16, things got a little heated when local resident Greg Litchfield, urging the city to "stand up" to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (EMA), railed against government and was briefly told by the mayor to get back on the issue at hand or sit down. Schultz quickly relented and Litchfield carried on.
While still on the subject, Councilman Cam Collier suggested looking into holding "open forum" meetings when some city officials would be made available to answer questions from the public.
Schultz said the idea was a good one and perhaps something could be implemented with the start of the new year. He also urged council members to give some thought to the idea to determine what could be developed.