Carmel City Council considers time limit for public comment
During the debate about the now-passed anti-discrimination law in Carmel, dozens of impassioned speakers came to speak to the Carmel City Council.
At the first meeting, public speakers voiced their opinions for more than three hours, some talking for more than 10 minutes at a time. At a later meeting, City Council President Rick Sharp decided public comment would be limited to two minutes each, and there was still two hours of comments.
Now, the Carmel City Council is considering making a time limit permanent, with three minutes the suggested time in a resolution that was introduced and sent to committee. The council does not currently have a time limit on public speakers.
City Councilor Sue Finkam said a review of other municipalities found that many others impose time limits. She added councilors are available via email, social media, phone, public meetings and various other ways.
“We will be accessible,” she said.
Finkam emphasized this is not an attempt to silence anyone’s opinions or discourage public input. Anyone from the public could still fill out a card and speak on anything they want.
Mo Merhoff, president of OneZone, said business owners tell her they want a time limit, because often they have to rearrange work schedules to be able to come and speak at meetings. In addition, some businesses spend money hiring attorneys to speak for them, and they don’t want to have to wait hours to have a chance to speak.
“Time limits ensure fairness,” Merhoff said. “Three minutes is more than enough time to make a point. The Gettysburg Address took two.”
The proposed resolution will be debated in committee before being brought back for a vote.