Dubuque city council criticized for public comment process - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque city council criticized for public comment process

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Dubuque city council members are facing some heat following Monday night's regular meeting.

Dubuque attorney Arthur Gilloon spoke during the public comment section at the end of the meeting and told council members he doesn't like the lack of input opportunities during council meetings.

Currently, public comments are reserved for the end of council meetings and are limited to topics not found on the meeting agenda.

Action items are rarely open for comment at meetings, and officials ask for citizens' input ahead of time. Council meeting agendas are readily available online and at the city clerk's office.

"Think about how it looks to the citizenry," Gilloon said to council members at Monday's meeting. "Everyone from those watching on TV to those sitting in council chambers - how it looks when you can't speak about it. Everything shouldn't be conducted by e-mails and phone calls before a meeting."

Speaking with KWWL at a public event Tuesday morning, Dubuque mayor Roy Buol said none of the council members see any need to change the way they conduct meetings.

"That whole process was set up long before we were on the council, and it's worked remarkably well in the city of Dubuque," Buol said. "Meetings are very organized, they're done very professionally."

Buol, a Dubuque native, said he remembers when council meetings used to stretch past midnight because there weren't the same restrictions on public comments throughout the meeting.

"It was not respectful of the public and their time," Buol said, adding the current public comment process, "was developed because of the chaos that was literally created by the process they were using."

Gilloon, however, said he'd like to see public comment available on action items.

"At the time of the action item, no one can speak, but you can get up afterward and speak like I am now, but you can't talk about the item that was on the agenda," Gilloon said. "I'm urging upon you to think about what kind of message that sends to the citizens in Dubuque."

To hear his comments, click HERE for a video of the meeting. He takes the podium at 1:13:34 -- http://cityofdubuque.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=1811. Another Dubuque man addresses the same concern, starting at 1:31:29.

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