Common Council Transforms Meetings
For social distancing: no full council meetings, remote voting allowed, no media on site.
“THIS DOCUMENT CAN AND WILL CHANGE,” warned City Clerk Jim Owczarski in a Monday morning email outlining new policies designed to enable the city’s legislative arm to continue to function amid a global pandemic.
It sure did.
Owczarski outlined Common Council policies designed to restrict the number of people in attendance to 25, including locking doors when capacity was met, and maintain social distancing practices.
Monday and Tuesday’s Common Council committee meetings operated with minimal disruption. The five-member Judiciary & Legislation and Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development committees met under a limit of no more than 25 people in the room. The zoning committee allowed an applicant to appear via phone, one committee member was excused and another sat far back from the meeting table whenever possible.
By Tuesday afternoon the Common Council had updated its rules in response to Governor Tony Evers ban of all public gatherings of 10 persons or more.
As a result, the full Common Council meetings will be held with an unusual twist. Not all of the members will be in attendance, but they will be allowed to vote. “There are plans to conduct full meetings of the Council by proxy (via Go to Meeting, etc.) whereby Council members will not necessarily be physically present in the Council Chamber to conduct business,” said public information manager and council Seargent-at-Arms Bill Arnold via email. “No members of the media will be granted access.”
The meetings will continue to be broadcast on the City Channel (online, channel 25 on Spectrum and channel 99 on Uverse). Recorded proceedings are available on Milwaukee.legistar.com.
Committee meetings will allow media members when possible, but priority will be given to individuals deemed necessary to conduct the business of meetings. That includes applicants and their attorneys as well as city staff.
“We greatly appreciate your patience during this unprecedented time,” said Arnold.
Urban Milwaukee will continue to cover the proceedings, but for the time being it will be from outside of City Hall.
The Common Council has a special meeting scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday with a single agenda item: ratifying Mayor Tom Barrett‘s state of emergency proclamation. Its next regularly scheduled meeting is March 24th. The committees, at this point, continue to meet on their regular schedule.
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