Janesville56.1°

Council meeting start time to remain at 7 p.m.

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
October 14, 2009
— Council member Tom McDonald wants council meetings to start at 6 p.m. rather than the current 7 p.m. and has requested the item be put on a future council agenda.

The Gazette had asked the council on Monday to start meetings at 6:30 p.m. so more news could get in the next day's paper. The Gazette has changed to a morning publication, and quite often the reporter must leave the meetings before important issues are decided to meet a 10:30 p.m. deadline.


The council on Monday defeated that request on a 4 to 2 vote. The starting time is dictated by charter ordinances so a 5-vote super-majority is needed to make the change.


Voting for the change were Kathy Voskuil, Frank Perrotto, George Brunner and Yuri Rashkin. Voting against the 6:30 p.m. start were Bill Truman and Tom McDonald.


McDonald said Tuesday morning that he voted no because he'd rather have a 6 p.m. start. He will wait to put the item on an agenda when the full council is seated. Russ Steeber was absent Monday.


Gazette Editor Scott Angus on Monday said an earlier time would help the paper better serve its readers and keep residents better informed.


The school board's meeting start of 6 p.m. doesn't seem to cause any problems, he said.


George Brunner said he worried that fewer people would run for council because they couldn't make the earlier start, especially if they work outside the city. Residents might have a harder time making it to the meetings, as well, he said.


Brunner did say the city could do a better job managing agendas so the reporter is present during those discussions.


Voskuil, who serves on the plan commission that meets at 6:30 p.m., favored the switch to 6:30 p.m. But, she said, some council members were concerned about losing time from a listening session now scheduled at 6 p.m. before the first meeting of the month.


Brunner said it also might be more difficult to schedule study sessions before meetings.


Study sessions typically start at 6 p.m., and most are not scheduled before council meetings.


Yuri Rashkin said he prefers a 6 p.m. starting time.


"At the same time, I'm hesitant of changing a charter ordinance to accommodate an outside business, whatever it might be."


Eric Levitt, city manager, said that an early start time might be more people-friendly because residents wouldn't have to stay up late either watching the meetings on TV or attending them.


"That's probably why the school board moved it up," he said.


McDonald agreed, saying people often come to council meetings and leave before the end. He said he is inclined to work with the newspaper so it can dispense timely information.


"That's another thing the council's been all about—transparency and getting the word out," he said.



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