Longmonters, in poll, oppose curbs on citizen input at Council meetings

Mayor impatient with blathering citizens tries to rein them in.

| Jan 29, 2010

Longmont Mayor Bryan Baum

Longmont Mayor Bryan Baum

It all started when some sharp interactions between Longmont’s mayor and a member of the public prompted a backlash, as progressives came forward to speak out.

Days later, at the yearly City Council retreat, the new mayor suggested a way to shorten city council meetings that would limit public speech. At that point, things got hot. Subsequent apologies notwithstanding, the mayor clearly had burned off any political capital he might have held, and both sides are now scrutinizing him. It’s got to be uncomfortable, too: his mayor pro-tem is none other than Tom “The Hammer” Delay’s once-office manager.

On the heels of these events the Times-Call Online ran this poll question :

The Longmont City Council offers two “public invited to heard” sessions during each regular meeting — one near the beginning of the meeting and one at the end. Mayor Bryan Baum would like to see the first public-invited segment to be limited to no more than 30 minutes. Speakers already are limited to three minutes each. Should the first public-invited session be limited, and if so, how much time should be allotted?

Here are the results of the Times-Call poll as of Jan 29, 2010 at 1:00 AM MDT

Pretty clearly, the mayor was unwise even to suggest limiting the “Public Invited to Be Heard” segment of Council meetings.

These next two charts, from data collected from 9:30 am to 1:45 pm, show the ratios throughout the polling period:

(Click charts to enlarge)

In the end, 262 votes were cast, hardly surprising given the low (and suppressed) 28 percent turnout in the recent election (and that was a mail-in ballot, no less). Start-to-finish, the average ratio of people that chose no limits to “Public Invited to Be Heard” was a steady 56 percent. Note that at 1 am, the total of people choosing any limit (all three choices combined) in the poll was 113 while the number choosing no limits was 149.

The final ratio of the smallest limit (30 minutes) to no limit voters was 52 / 149, or almost three-to-one.

Yes, the mayor blew this one. Wonder what his handlers have to say now.

Doug Wray is a web developer, blogger and progressive activist from Longmont. He is a founding member of FreeRangeLongmont.com, a citizens forum group.