The Ridgecrest City Council at its meeting today will talk about something unusual: how to run the meeting itself.
Council will hear from City Attorney Keith Lemieux, who has prepared a draft policy of how to run council meetings, including issues such as how to agenda-ize items, rules for public comment, and rules for maintaining order.
Council will presumably discuss the draft document and determine whether or not to adopt it.
The following is a summary of some points contained in the document. The entire document is available for public viewing as an agenda attachment at http://ridgecrest-ca.gov/council-agendas
Rules of order/procedure summary
Council meetings are to be conducted in compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act. “Except as otherwise provided by these rules,” the city's municipal code, or applicable state law, city council procedures shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order.
Rules may be suspended by a vote of two-thirds of council members present.
Regular meetings are to be held the first and third Wednesdays of each month at City Council Chambers at City Hall, with closed sessions beginning at 5:30 p.m. And agenda items beginning at 6 p.m. Special closed session meetings may be set for 5:00 p.m, if the meeting is expected to be lengthy.
Special meetings may be set and require a posted notice of at least 24 hours in advance.
Closed-session meetings may be held before, during, or after a meeting. Topics for closed session meetings can include “pending or threatened litigation, conference with real property negotiators, or consideration of appointment, performance evaluation, discipline, dismissal or release of a public employee.” Attendees at closed-session cannot disclose what went on without a city council majority vote or unless disclosure is required by law.
The agenda shall be prepared by the city clerk under the direction of the city manager, who shall consult with the city attorney. The agenda and supporting documents shall be distributed to council members on the Friday preceding the meeting week or as quickly as possible after that.
“Prior to 5:00 p.m. on the eighth day prior to a regular meeting any council member may request that any item be placed on the agenda by communicating that request to the City Manager in writing. If so requested, the item shall be placed on the agenda. In addition, each agenda will contain an item for 'Future Agenda Items' during which members of the city council may request to have matters added to the agenda of the next regular meeting. Matters directed to be placed on the Agenda at the direction of Council members shall be listed on the Agenda in the order of receipt by the City Clerk,” according to the draft document.
Agenda postings shall comply with the Brown Act, with agenda copies posted in the lobby of City Hall and another as-yet-unspecified location. “No action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the posted Agenda unless the item is added to the Agenda in the manner required by the Brown Act.”
Meetings shall be presided over by the mayor. If the mayor is absent the mayor pro tempore shall preside. Next in precedence shall be the vice mayor.
Public comments shall be limited to not more than five minutes per speaker, or shorter if there are numerous speakers on one item.
“To ensure efficient proceedings and to allow for the maximum of public testimony on items that are expected to be controversial, the City Council may require those desiring to speak to be registered prior to commencement of the meeting.”
Speakers would be required to submit speaker cards to the City Clerk prior to the start of the meeting if possible or prior to the beginning of the public hearing on the particular item. Late requests would only be heard with council approval.
The mayor or presiding officer shall maintain order. “The Chief of Police or such member or members of the Police Department, as he or she may designate, shall be sergeant-at-arms of the city council and shall carry out all orders given by the presiding officer through the city manager for the purpose of maintaining order at city council meetings.”
The regular council meeting is scheduled for today at 6 p.m., at city council chambers at City Hall, 100 W. California Ave.
It will also be broadcast on Mediacom Channel 6 and streamed online at www.ridgecrest-ca.gov/city-media/rc6-live.