Coun­cil sets time limit for univer­sity com­ments

Newark Post - - Local News - By KARIE SIMMONS ksim­mons@ches­pub.com

Univer­sity of Delaware ad­min­is­tra­tion and stu­dent body rep­re­sen­ta­tives who wish to speak dur­ing city coun­cil meet­ings are now capped at five min­utes each.

The change came dur­ing an or­ga­ni­za­tional meet­ing April 21 af­ter Dis­trict 3 Coun­cil­woman Jen Wal­lace, Mayor Polly Sierer and in­cum­bent coun­cil­men Luke Chap­man and Stu Markham took their oaths of of­fice for win­ning the April 12 elec­tion.

Since 2013, mem­bers of the public who speak dur­ing the public com­ment por­tion at coun­cil meet­ings, as well as on an agenda items, have been lim­ited to three min­utes each with the op­por­tu­nity for other peo­ple to cede them ad­di­tional time if nec­es­sary. Be­fore that, public com­ment was set at five min­utes per per­son.

Coun­cil re­duced the public’s time in or­der to stream­line lengthy meet­ings and last week, Wal­lace sug­gested it limit the univer­sity – which pre­vi­ously had no time limit – as well. She rec­om­mended five min­utes per speaker.

“With the un­der­stand­ing that any coun­cil mem­ber could make the sug­ges­tion to ex­tend the time if they wanted to do that,” she said.

Coun­cil­woman Marge Had­den, who works at the univer­sity, felt the time limit was ap­pro­pri­ate.

“I don’t have a prob­lem with that,” she said. “Five min­utes is a lot of time to fill up.”

Coun­cil­man Todd Ruckle, how­ever, said that if the univer­sity is lim­ited, elected of­fi­cials should be too.

“It’s kind of like we’re putting a limit on one over the other,” he said. “If we’re go­ing to do it, we have to be equal.”

The board ul­ti­mately de­cided not to re­strict elected of­fi­cials and in­stead voted unan­i­mously to cap univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tion and stu­dent body rep­re­sen­ta­tives at five min­utes each. Coun­cil also lim­ited public pre­senta- tions, which typ­i­cally oc­cur at the be­gin­ning of the meet­ing and be­fore public com­ment, to 15 min­utes.

“I like the idea of set­ting a guide­line, if you will, for peo­ple to aim for,” Chap­man said.

Coun­cil­man Mark More­head sug­gested they also open public pre­sen­ta­tions up to public com­ment in or­der to give res­i­dents the abil­ity to ask ques­tions. The board voted 6 to 1 to do so and limit each speaker to one minute, with Ruckle as the op­pos­ing vote.

NEWARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

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