The first City Council meeting of 2020 on Tuesday, Jan. 7 was also the first meeting under the new format where city business is conducted at the first meeting of the month and it went well.

At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson explained that she would be presiding because Mayor Nancy Vaughan was on her way back from Uganda. 

According to the new format the City Council hears speakers from the floor for three minutes each for 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting.  The Council takes care of a short business agenda and then hears speakers for three minutes each for as long as it takes for everyone to be heard.

Under the old format, speakers were heard for five minutes each and other than passing resolutions at the beginning of the meeting the City Council took no action.

Johnson, without objection, allowed speakers a little more than 30 minutes at the beginning of the meeting and since it was a short business meeting, it appeared that most of the remaining speakers hung around for their turn at the podium.  At least Johnson didn’t call out the names of many people who didn’t come forward to speak.

Johnson also kept the meeting moving along by not allowing Councilmember Sharon Hightower to question every speaker and then launch into long tirades about whatever topic came to mind.

At the end of the meeting Hightower said she was “not pleased” with the new format and didn’t think three minutes was enough time for a speaker.

Councilmember Goldie Wells said, “At the meeting tonight we heard from 22 speakers and they had three minutes each.  I think five minutes is a little bit long.  We want to hear what citizens have to say, but it should be done in an orderly fashion.  I think it went well.”

The City Council approved this new format at its Nov. 19 meeting, but it seems some members of this City Council want to revisit every decision.