Worcester City Council rules changes

Here’s a PDF outlining proposed changes in how the City Council will operate.

A lot of this is just cleaning things up. The discussion of these changes has been happening for many months now, and will go on for some time to come.

Here are a few things I noticed that go beyond cleanup.

  • When the Council takes up an issue that’s not on the meeting agenda, they will first have to explain the emergency situation that’s forcing them to do so.
  • Limits total public comment at a Council meeting to 30 minutes. (The Council can always suspend this rule and let people talk longer.)
  • Reiterates that people at meetings should be silent, and that if you’re still talking after being warned, the Council can call the cops on you.
  • Formalizes that the Mayor can temporarily appoint Councilors to vacant committee spots. This is how it’s already done.
  • Currently, committees are supposed to make a decision on items within 60 days, then report back to the Council. There are a lot of old items drifting around. The new rule says that after 60 days, if the committee hasn’t dealt with the item, it goes back to the Council. Also, the Clerk will give the committees lists of their “dormant items,” and every 2 years there will be a big housecleaning—either a Councilor has to ask to keep an item alive, or it will automatically be “filed.” (That is, go away.
  • The new rules several times call speaking before the Council a “privilege,” whereas the old rules don’t. Not sure if this means anything.

Rules geeks, feel free to post a comment with your impressions.

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