When looking at the term any one topic or item, you can best define this statement through tried and tested legal meanings used in sales such as in-store, printed or on-line coupons where the term is often used.
The term is normally stated as a percentage off of any one item, this means that such a discount will only apply to one specific item and not to multiple different items; there are cases depending on the wording it may only apply to the purchase of one item of a specific type, i.e. 10% off of one 12oz bottle of brand X.
In the City Council Rules of Procedure there has been imposed a time limit on public speakers on non-agenda items to three minutes per speaker, however within the Rules of Procedure, the use of the 15 minute time limit is a discretionary limit which may by applied by the Presiding Office, but this limit was based on public comments on any one subject and is to be an aggregate (a combined time used on that one subject alone) of 15 minutes.
This can further be proven as the meaning of this 15 minute rule by simply looking at Section 2.4 (Public Comments AT Regular and Adjourned Regular Meeting); Subsection 2.4.2, which states the following:
2.4.2. PUBLIC COMMENTS ON MATTERS ON THE AGENDA
Public comments on the agenda shall be taken as to each agenda item called by the Presiding Officer for consideration; however, speakers who wish to address the City Council on any consent calendar item may only speak once prior to City Council consideration of the consent calendar. Each member of the public requesting to speak shall be allowed three (3) minutes to complete comments and all speakers on any one (1) agenda item shall be limited to a total aggregate time of fifteen (15) minutes.
Notice the use of (1) agenda item, this is a clear reference that the City’s intent was based on reducing repetitive speaking on the same item, so as to allow public speaking on other agenda items, and to lessen the time spent on public speaking so that the council could move to doing the people’s business, it was never meant to prevent speaking in excess 15 or even 30 minutes.
Not to be over redundant, we can even look to the wording used on public comments on “Closed Session Agendas,” which clearly shows once again that the public was not limited in time based on overall comments:
Section 2.7.; (Public Comments on Matters on Closed Session Agendas) Subsection 2.7.3:
2.7.3. TIME LIMITS.
Each speaker shall be limited to three (3) minutes for all items on the Closed Session Agenda with an aggregate time limit for all public comments of fifteen (15) minutes unless extended upon a majority vote of the City Council after an appropriate motion and second.
As you can see from the above, when the City sought to limit speech to 15 minutes for all public comments, they worded it as “an aggregate time limit for all public comments of fifteen (15) minutes.”
Mayor Owings has stated from the dais that he makes the rules, however that is not the case at all, the Rules of Procedure were enacted as a Resolution which required a majority vote of the City Council, and any such amendments would require yet another vote of the City Council.
Mayor Owings only position is too fairly and legally preside over the Council meetings using the Rules of Procedure as that legal guide.
Furthermore, Mayor Owing himself is in constant violation of the Rules of Procedure as well as the proper decorum expected and called for within them.
When responding to a comment from a member of the public, he himself is under a time limit of 3 minutes (Section 2.2.5 of the Rules of Procedure), he is furthermore limited in time to speak with the exception of closing comments to a total time of 5 minutes whenever he has the floor any time beyond that would require the approval of the of a majority vote of the council (Section 5.5.6 of the Rules of Procedure).
That’s not to say that Mayor Owings hasn’t violated many section of the Council Meeting Rules of Procedure, for he plainly has and we will touch on them later, as well as the section within the Rules of Procedure which have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court as unconstitutional, so that next time you wish to speak, you will be well armed and educated on your rights.
For a downloadable version of the City Council Meeting Rules of Procedure in PDF format, CLICK HERE.