CITY COUNCIL TO REVIEW PROCEDURES - LONG, CONTENTIOUS MEETINGS A CONCERN
STEVE SCOTT, Pioneer Press
February 4, 2005

The Roseville City Council, which has had its share of contentious moments in recent years, will take time out on a Saturday soon to discuss how to conduct its business, including how best to receive public comment and become more efficient.

Council meetings often are long and rancorous, as evidenced Monday night when the city attorney stepped in to silence a personnel complaint aired at the public forum.

As tempers flickered between Council Member Tom Kough and City Manager Neal Beets, city attorney Scott Anderson chastened the council to observe rules for "appropriate" comment.

"I want to stop this discussion right now," Anderson said. "There's a procedure for complaints that any of you can look at. This is not the forum for these kinds of discussions to be held at this level."

The council considered several procedural issues at the meeting, prompting Mayor Craig Klausing to call a special Saturday morning council meeting to discuss operating procedures. Council Member Dean Maschka recommended the council also outline its priorities and lay out a budgeting process.

The meeting, which would be open to the public, is expected to be held within the month. A date still was being worked out Thursday.

Perhaps its most sensitive issue would be possible guidelines on receiving public comment. Richard Lambert of the Roseville Citizens League asked the council on Monday "to adopt a policy that permits input without allowing unelected citizens to extend meeting times to the point where your decision-making ability is impaired."

Although he mentioned no names at the meeting, Lambert's organization -- formerly the Roseville Citizens Council for Fair and Open Government -- ran a "Save Roseville Campaign" in 2002 trying to force then-Mayor John Kysylyczyn to resign.

Kysylyczyn, mayor from 2000-03, still attends and speaks at nearly all council meetings during public comment periods.

"He's really worn out his welcome with his continual attacks on everybody," Lambert said in an interview Tuesday.

Kysylyczyn frequently has publicly accused Klausing of "waffling" or "flip-flopping" on issues and criticized the mayor for not representing the council at certain functions. Kysylyczyn said Tuesday that he has attempted to hold all council members accountable during his public comments and that he discusses only pertinent city business.

"I follow good policy. I don't use foul language. I don't bring signs to meetings. That's not my style," Kysylyczyn said. "You'll never see me go up and make comments about something without having documented evidence at my fingertips.

"I don't consider any of my comments as being mean. My comments, though, some people probably don't want to hear them. I'll readily admit that."

Klausing said Lambert's comments could be applied to "the general tone" of others making public comment. He did say, however, that although citizens have a right to address the council, Kysylyczyn "abuses that ability. ... Many things he says to the city don't have to be addressed in forms of public comment at the meeting. There are other avenues to convey that information to the council."

Klausing said the council can't make rules that apply to just one person.

"That's the tricky part," he said. "You're trying to strike a balance between enabling the public to talk about their concerns against the right of the rest of the citizens for the council to move the business of the city forward."

Before Klausing suggested the special meeting, the council also had been considering mandating a 10 p.m. adjournment for council meetings, with continuance until the next day, and whether to rotate council members' seating assignments at meetings.

"The whole issue," Klausing said, "is how do we move to a more productive, civil way of doing things."

Steve Scott may be reached at 651-228-5526 or sscott@pioneerpress.com.

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