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Morrow weighing public input shake-up

City to decide when to allow it, how to run it

— The days of Morrow residents being able to stand up and speak their minds in a rather informal format are likely coming to an end.

The Morrow City Council is weighing new models for conducting public comment at council meetings.

Under each model, the city would likely convert the public comment period to a more structured format that may dramatically alter the small-town, carte-blanche feel of public input in Morrow.

“You know how public comment now requires a card, and basically they’ve come up and the city clerk fills out the card for them?” said City Manager Jeff Eady to council members Tuesday. “This basically says they will get the card from the back of the room, fill it out and present it to the city clerk prior to the meeting so they can get on the agenda to discuss whatever item.”

The Council is expected to debate the proposed public comment models at a called work session and business meeting Monday. The work session will begin at 6 p.m., and the business meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Both sessions will take place at the Morrow Municipal Complex, 1500 Morrow Road, in Morrow.

While a pre-meeting sign-up appears to be included in each proposed model, council members still have to decide whether to have public comment at the beginning of the meetings, or at the end of their meetings. Public comment is currently at the end of the meetings.

However, Eady said the council has the option to craft an entirely different model from what he is proposing.

“I offer two different drafts, so to speak, and these are just drafts,” Eady said. “We can come up with a third and a fourth if we need to.”

Residents currently have a dedicated period in meetings where they can speak their minds regardless of whether they were planning to speak at the meeting before it began. A blanket call for comments is put out by Mayor Joseph “J.B.” Burke and any citizen can get up and speak on any topic of their choosing.

Residents sometimes stand up to speak more than once at a meeting, giving the comment period more of a dialogue-type feel than a formal part of the meeting. That was the case during public comment this past Tuesday, when citizens used the period to debate whether the City Council had violated Georgia’s Open Meetings Act during a Nov. 5 executive session.

If a citizen doesn’t like something one of their neighbors said in public comment, they can also get up and offer a differing opinion under the current format.

Eady said he, City Councilman Larry Ferguson and City Clerk Evyonne Browning crafted the proposed public comment based on their examination of formats other cities in Clayton County use for public input.

“This is the cleanest, easiest way to keep order inside a meeting,” Eady said.

Ferguson added the change will be made merely to support existing rules.

“This is to supplement Roberts Rules of Order,” he said.

Comments

OscarKnight 1 year, 4 months ago

......."The days of Morrow residents being able to stand up and speak their minds in a rather informal format are likely coming to an end"

.....What's going to happen ?.......Is the Officials in Morrow going to cut out their tongues ?

.....Heck; The officials has to have ears to hear them !!!!....OOPS; My bad, I forgot about the Media Press, with their ears.

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AnotherMorrowResident 1 year, 4 months ago

Now that the Citizens of Morrow are on to the crafty wiles of how this city is being run, we now have the City Manager wanting to shut the people up. Seems Ferguson(an alleged law breaker), Browning(another alleged law breaker) are now the puppets of Eady, in trying to quiet the masses.

This according to The Morrow City Charter Article II:

Sec. 2.32. - Powers and duties of mayor.

The mayor shall:

(1)Preside at all meetings of the city council;

(2)Be the chief executive officer of the city;

(3)Have a vote only in the case of a tie vote by councilmembers;

(4)Sign ordinances and resolutions on their final passage; except that the mayor shall have veto power over ordinances, orders, or resolutions, in which case the mayor shall have five days after meetings of the mayor and council to file with the clerk in writing his or her disapproval, but the councilmembers may, at the same meeting or any subsequent meeting within 60 days, override the veto of such ordinance, order, or resolution by a vote of two-thirds of the total number of councilmembers, to be taken by "ayes" and "nays" and entered upon the minutes;

(5)Be the head of the city for the purpose of service of process and for ceremonial purposes and be the official spokesperson for the city and the chief advocate of policy;

(6)Have power to administer oaths and to take affidavits; and

(7)Sign as a matter of course on behalf of the city all written and approved contracts and other instruments executed by the city which by law are required to be in writing.

So, am I correct in assuming the City Manager is now trying to preside over the Council Meetings?

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MorrowResident 1 year, 4 months ago

I would say that you are correct in assuming that the City Manager is trying to preside over Council Meetings and other things that he should NOT be doing. This guy cannot see how he comes across. He is meeting with people trying to get them to run for council. He was surprised when the Mayor stood up to him and holds him accountable. That Economic Developer guy is always in the background.

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OscarKnight 1 year, 4 months ago

,,,,Sometimes actions speaks louder than words......It's called a mass boycotting of the meetings, picketing, boycotting of businesses, and ignoring City Officials. Make it seem that you no longer have any interest in the city; Then you will be placed on my best dressed list.

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Robert 1 year, 4 months ago

Censorship is what it is. The mayor and council can see the storm coming and they are preparing for the worst by making the tax payers fill out a card and IF they don't disapprove of what is written on the card then the tax payer may speak. But, they want your votes come next election.

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jeffdetar 1 year, 4 months ago

The article left out the part about how the Mayor and Council were discussing the new formats as a method of allowing MORE input from citizens. They were concerned that the present format does not allow comments BEFORE the council votes on proposed business. The "new format" would allow all interested individuals the chance to study the business at hand and contribute to the discussion BEFORE being settled by a vote. Seems like a good idea to me.

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OscarKnight 1 year, 4 months ago

....In other words; The meetings will be moderated.

...If anyone has ever been in a magistrate court in this lopsided county, you would be a witness to the unbalanced moderated & censored justice in this county.

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MorrowResident 1 year, 4 months ago

The article covers what you claim it does not cover. Read it again.

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pauladetar 1 year, 4 months ago

He very pointedly stated at the beginning of his comment that the article "left out" what he proceeded to tell you. Read it again, MorrowResident!

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AnotherMorrowResident 1 year, 4 months ago

Censorship indeed! The Citizens of Morrow rarely discuss how the council has voted on "proposed business". As a matter of fact, there are many council meetings where there has been no comments from the citizens. So why now? The four council members and the city manager have put themselves in a precarious position, perhaps? They now know that the citizens are aware of it. Do they want this swept under the rug? The uproar from the citizens is on how the council has conducted themselves during executive session that has now come to light. If cards were filled out before the meetings to hold the council accountable for their actions, I sincerely doubt these would be added to the agenda. For instance, let's say that we saw with our own eyes, a letter that had the signatures of all four council members. In this signed letter, it was specifically stated that there was a unanimous decision made as to sanctions being required of the mayor. The council claims the "Sunshine Laws" were not violated, there was no evidence presented, there was no vote taken. Now the citizens want to hold the council accountable for their actions that were taken and now they are seemingly lying about it. The citizens now want to know HOW could a unanimous decision have been made? The letter we all read and the claims by council clearly contradict one another. We want to know WHY! Do you seriously think this is going to become an agenda item?

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