KINGMAN - Despite pleas from residents not to, the County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-4 Wednesday to remove the Call to the Public from the commission's regular agenda. It will now be up to the chair of the commission as to when and where a Call to the Public should be added to a meeting.
Chair Earl Hamlyn and Commissioners Kristal Gibson, Kenneth White, Sue Donahue and Vice Chair Carl Flusche voted in favor of leaving the Call to the Public up to the discretion of the chair. Commissioners Bill Abbott, Joseph Morabito, Mehdi Azarmi and Rick Sherwood voted against the measure.
Arizona Revised Statutes don't require a government board to have a Call to the Public.
"Please retain this," said resident Jim Kanelos. "Don't be afraid to let the public speak. It's a vital, needed open mic."
"This is democracy in action," said resident Mark Shaver. "Don't be afraid."
The Call to the Public allows people to speak about more general things that may not be on the agenda, said resident Elizabeth Barnett.
Hamlyn said he was approached by several commissioners who were concerned that the meetings were running too long because of the number of people who signed up to speak during Call to the Public and then spoke on individual items. The meeting could be shortened by allowing the chair to decide if there would be a Call to the Public at a meeting or not, he said.
"We ran nine hours and 45 minutes on one item last month," Hamlyn said, referring to the Hualapai Valley Solar project, which was continued from Sept. 9 to Sept. 16. "We need to expedite these meetings."
"This is the only avenue for the public to give us general comments," said Azarmi.
Abbott warned that the City Council of Kingman tried to move its Call to the Public and an uproar ensued.
The Council did move its Call to the Public to the end of its agenda, City Clerk Debbie Francis said Thursday, but had to change it back after an ordinance was found requiring it to be at the beginning of the meeting. The ordinance was later changed, she said.
Vice Chair Carl Flusche felt the commission gave residents enough time while considering individual items on the agenda to speak their minds. He suggested moving the Call to the Public to the end of the meetings, if there was enough time for one.