County Board candidate Audrey Clement complained to me. She said she was told by County Board Clerk Hope Halleck that she could not speak about the Columbia Pike Streetcar at the Saturday morning board meeting.
However, Halleck said that was not quite the case.
In a quick interview, Halleck repsonded that public comment which starts every board meeting is designed for items not on the current agenda or that are under review or in process elsewhere in the county.
If open comment is available through other means, that's where the public should address their concerns. If an item is on the agenda, the person is asked to wait until that item comes before the board to make a comment later that day.
Since the AA/EA report on the streetcar is under consideration and open for public comment, the county board was not necessarily going to make time for Clement's comment at the meeting, Halleck explained. (The public has until June 21 to make comments here.)
Halleck explained that the board chair has flexibility here (she read the county policy on public comment) and that the chair, Mary Hynes, had agreed to let Clement speak. Halleck also said that the chair often approves speaking requests.
As if to highlight this point, however, Jim Hurysz, a regular commentator and supporter of Clement, began to talk about a double decker bus that he believes is a better alternative to the streetcar. When he got into the details about the Deuce Bus and ACE articulated bus in use on the Las Vegas strip, Hynes interuprted.
"Mr. Hurysz, Mr Hurysz. You promised me that this was about the process, not about the content."
Hurysz finished his comments and sat down.
Clement, of the Green Party, lost a three-way race for the county board in special election last year with a platform that included an anti-streetcar stance. Hynes supports the streetcar.
A summary of Clements' remarks:
- The streetcar system is expensive.
- It will take up space in the roadway and create more congestion for traffic already on Columbia Pike.
- Property values will rise because of the streetcar, and that will force affordable housing outside the area.
- The electric streetcar will run on energy from mountain-top removal coal or nuclear power, she wrote in a statement provided to the Mercury.
The county board public speaking guidelines can be found here. They are:
The purpose of Public Comment is to alert the Board to topics not on an agenda; comments should not include topics which have been the subject of recent public hearing, or topics which have been scheduled by the Board for public hearings.
- The public comment period is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at Regular Saturday meetings.
- Speakers are limited to two (2) minutes.
- Only one speaker will be heard on each topic.
- In order to speak, a speaker must complete a speaker slip identifying the subject of the public comment and place it in the speaker slip box in the meeting room before the last speaker is called by the Clerk.