Herald JournalHerald Journal, Nov. 15, 2004

Montrose council restores citizens' open forum

By David Cox

Montrose residents can again bring their questions and concerns to the city council during its meetings.

The council reversed its Sept. 13 decision on a 4-0 vote and reinstated the citizens open forum at its meeting last Monday. Councilman David Nordschow abstained.

In the earlier decision, the council eliminated the open forum and required residents to call city hall by the Thursday before a meeting to get on the agenda.

Council member Sharon Knodel proposed the return to the old system. “I feel that many times the open forum was a good thing,” Knodel said. “We got a lot of good feedback, such as when we had the youth come in and talk about the skate park. I would like to see it reinstated.”

Knodel said residents who want to be on the agenda can still do so, but added that both options should be available to encourage communication between residents and the council.

When the council eliminated the open forum in September, council members said knowing what was on the agenda in advance enabled them to be better prepared for the meeting.

Knodel and others suggested that by not allowing people to introduce topics on meeting nights, the city might inadvertently restrict communication, because some people might not be comfortable calling city hall to be added to the agenda.

City Administrator Barb Swanson said the option to get on the agenda in advance has always been available, and there are people who use it.

Residents should remember that the council may not act on an issue that is first brought up at a meeting, Swanson advised.

Nordschow said he “could go either way” on the proposal, but said the decision would not affect him because his term is up at the end of December. He advised the council to “be very careful” about how the open forum is used.

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