By Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday December 8, 2015
Mayor Fred wants council to cork it
(By Andrew Dreschel) “If you can’t say it in five minutes, then you really can’t say it.”
That’s Fred Eisenberger’s guiding philosophy for speaking during city meetings and, for the sake of productivity, he’d like the rest of council to follow suit.
The mayor thinks too much time is being wasted with long-winded repetitive comments that don’t advance the discussion or the agenda.
“Let’s do what we’re advocating our staff to do — be efficient and get the job done in a cost effective, crisp way.
“Be precise, be clear, get to the point, and let’s move on.”
Eisenberger first raised his paean to pithiness during the tail end of a wordy two-hour discussion over a road issue that council won’t even vote on until late 2016 or early 2017.
Judging by the reaction of some of his colleagues, it may be his most popular idea to date.
“I agree with Fred. There a point where you just don’t keep talking,” said Robert Pasuta.
Pasuta tends to be the strong and silent type, but when he does speak it’s short and to the point.
“I think it’s more important to make your point than just go on and on because the context of what you want to say gets lost in all the BS.”
Doug Conley, another who tends to save his breath, also agrees there should be more lip-zipping.
“It would cut down our meetings by half an hour to an hour.”
Conley doesn’t want a speaker to be shut down right at five minutes, but he or she should be urged by the chair to wrap it up at that mark.
The problem, Conley says, is four or five councillors often end up saying the same thing rather than acknowledging their points have been covered by others.
According to the procedural bylaw, councillors can ask unlimited questions about a presentation or motion.
But they can’t comment on a subject for longer than five minutes without the permission of council, usually conferred by the person chairing the meeting.
That’s a rule more often broken than observed. Council microphones are designed to cut off after five minutes, but councillors just have to press a button to reactivate them.
Eisenberger points out that since council tends to hold public delegations to the five-minute rule, they should be sticklers themselves. (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)