Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday January 20, 2018
Councillors back 5 minute speech limit
The days of long-winded repetitive council speeches may be numbered.
After a vigorous 30-minute debate, Hamilton councillors have voted to restrict their statements and questions during meetings to a five-minute time limit.
Donna Skelly, who proposed the speaking cap, said the idea is to impose some discipline on talkative councillors and to be more respectful of time constraints and tying up valuable staff hours.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger called the proposal “music to my ears.”
Eisenberger has previously groused that some councillors waste too much time by running off at the mouth with scant regard for time management.
“I think it’s a good thing to institute some discipline in this process,” said Eisenberger. “We tend on too many occasions to hear the same thing over and over and over again.”
Matthew Green agreed. “If you can’t say something in 500 words (it) probably doesn’t need to be said.”
But the proposal, approved 8-7 at this week’s general issues committee, ran into strong headwinds.
Here’s how the committee vote went. For: Aidan Johnson, Farr, Green, Skelly, Brenda Johnson, Eisenberger, Arlene VanderBeek, Lloyd Ferguson. Against: Merulla, Chad Collins, Jackson, Terry Whitehead, Judi Partridge, Maria Pearson, Conley.
Although Robert Pasuta was absent, the vote is unlikely to be overturned when it goes to council for approval next Wednesday. Pasuta, himself a man of few words, says he’ll support the cap. After all, it reflects his own philosophy: “Think about what you’re going to say and don’t blabber on because who listens?” (Source: Andrew Dreschel, Hamilton Spectator)