Image: Citizens Showing Disapproval of Council Policy holding Winnie-the-Pooh characters with mouths taped shut (photo at Pilotonline.com).
Just wanted to let you know, [last night’s] public work session (PWS) was ended (for the public) with a discussion about how the non-agenda speakers will not be aired at city council meetings from tonight on.
The mayor opened the discussion and read a draft of a statement to be made to the public at the council meeting about this, then he opened the floor for comments from other council members. Mr. Moody made a strong argument for continuing to air non-agenda speakers. Ms. Psimas stated that, although she had stated on many occasions her concerns about what was aired, she considered the needs of people who could not attend meetings to be important, too. She also said that the mayor had the gavel and could control speakers who were making personal attacks, etc., to a degree, but that other council members had to back him when he did so (which is undeniably true). She further recommended that the decision to stop airing the public’s comments should be delayed until after tonight’s meeting and the community meeting next week. Mr. Moody agreed that waiting until after the community meeting to make the decision was a good idea and asked for consensus. Unfortunately, other council members–Mr. Cherry, Mr. Edmonds, Mr. Meeks, and Ms. Randall–supported the black-out, so we would have been left in the dark this Tuesday and would be at the community meeting on January 15…
EXCEPT, Mark Geduldig-Yatrofsky was there with enhanced video equipment, and I believe he will be at the next meeting, too. So I’m hoping to be able to tune in soon to www.portsmouthcitywatch.org to hear what people had to say to council tonight! And I’m planning to be at the community meeting on January 15 at 7 p.m. at I.C. Norcom High School, where I hope you will join me and speak (briefly and civilly) about not having a voice at city council meetings. (And video back-up for Mark would probably also be welcome; I’m sorry, I’m still trying to figure out my camera.)
You should be able to watch tonight’s PWS at www.portsmouthva.gov tomorrow or soon thereafter, so you can hear for yourself who said what before the council meeting. I was so dispirited by the results of the PWS that instead of staying for the council meeting and speaking about the tolls court date, the new year’s farmers market, and plans to work on the USCG City celebration this year, I left. My announcements were for council AND our fellow citizens, many of whom were not in council chambers tonight (as was pointed out by Ms. Psimas). Tonight, a majority on council took away my voice–and yours.