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City Council's Green Light Policy Irks Public Speakers

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Abandon hope, all ye development-battling homeowners who enter City Hall, thinking that if you attend a City Council meeting, your public comments will have any effect on the outcome on a particular vote. The fix is in. Quite literally! Unlike New York and San Francisco, where City Council members have to be physically present to vote on issues, LA City Council members can use an automatic voting system--and a system that registers automatic "Yes" votes. Which means that many city council persons are not actually at their chairs when votes are taking place, but are in back room meetings. Or taking smoke breaks. The Los Angeles Times notes the absences of City Council members "frequently infuriates members of the public who show up to testify only to find themselves addressing one or more empty chairs. ''We go there to talk to the full City Council,' said Ziggy Kruse of the Hollywood Studio District Neighborhood Council. ''If you get eight people in their seats, you're lucky.' 'The practice shows a "profound lack of respect for the public,' said Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, a group devoted to preserving open government. 'It seems to me to say, 'My time is too important right now to spend it actually participating in a meeting where I was elected to represent the public.'" At the end of the article, City Council President Eric Garcetti is quoted as stating that "many issues are worked out in advance in committee meetings and that accidental 'yes' votes are rare."
· Automatic 'yes' votes allow time for back-room dealing at City Hall [LAT]