Janesville City Council might move up meetings to start at 6 p.m.

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Marcia Nelesen
Saturday, April 26, 2014

JANESVILLE--Janesville City Council President DuWayne Severson has proposed the council start its meetings one hour earlier to help the local newspaper publish more information about council business in a timely fashion.

Severson proposes starting meetings at 6 p.m. rather than 7 p.m.

The council will vote on the proposal Monday.

The earlier starting time also would be more convenient for residents who attend the meetings or watch the meetings on television, he said.

Some meetings last beyond 11 p.m.

Gazette reporters who cover council meetings must leave by about 9:30 p.m. to meet a 10:30 p.m. deadline for the next morning's print edition.

An earlier starting time also would mean support staff could head home earlier.

Councilman Matt Kealy is co-sponsor of the proposal.

“A great number of our citizens do receive their information about the council from the printed press, from you folks,” Severson told a Gazette reporter.

“It's important that we do whatever we can to make sure they get that information sooner rather than later.”

Severson said he advocates anything that increases council transparency.

Severson said he also plans to propose moving a public comment period from the end of the agenda to the beginning.

“That way, citizens will have better opportunities to say what they have to say,” Severson said.

The Gazette asked for a similar change in 2009, when the newspaper changed to morning delivery.

But then, according to news accounts, City Attorney Wald Klimczyk ruled the meeting time was part of a city charter ordinance. Changing charter ordinances require super majority approval from the city council.

A simple majority of council members voted in favor of the time change, but the measure fell short of the super majority needed. Councilman Russ Steeber at the time said he voted against it because he was reluctant to change a charter ordinance.

Klimczyk in an email Friday said he recalled the council in 2009 wanted a charter ordinance drafted to make the time change, and that would have required a super majority vote.

Severson said it would not take a super majority vote Monday to change the meeting time.

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