Springer Was Right to Question Public-Comment Change

First published in the Aug. 27 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

I am writing in support of Councilwoman Sharon Springer’s recent decision to exercise her First Amendment rights in a letter to the Aug. 21 edition of the Burbank Leader.
She and I served together on the Burbank City Council for three and a half years where she proved herself to be independent and brave with a deep commitment to the people of Burbank.
Her letter expressed her dissatisfaction with the recent 3-1 council vote to eliminate the public-comment period previously permitted following staff reports to the City Council on each agenda item.
Councilwoman Springer believes, correctly, that the public’s right to comment after a staff report afforded an opportunity to speak to an issue right after the staff report was delivered was an important part of the council’s considerations and should not have been eliminated merely because city staff thought it wasn’t being used enough recently.
The benefit to the council’s decision-making process of hearing the public’s comments to staff presentations is obvious. It ensures that a community member’s comments to remain fresh in the mind of council members as they discuss the issue, often prompting members to ask questions of staff that had not been raised previously.
Council members — just like the rest of us — can and should exercise their right to speak freely and inform the community of their position on issues of concern — particularly something as important as limiting public comment at City Council meetings.
I applaud Councilwoman Springer for speaking up.

Emily Gabel-Luddy
Burbank
Former City Councilwoman