Missoula City Council Returns to In-Person Meetings on March 14
UPDATE----5:00 p.m. March 11
KGVO has learned from the City of Missoula Communications Director that the first in-person City Council meeting where the public is invited will be on March 28, not this Monday March 14.
After nearly two years meeting via ZOOM, the Missoula City Council returns to in-person meetings on Monday, March 28
KGVO spoke to Ward 6 City Councilor Sandra Vasecka on Friday for details for those who have been waiting to attend a city council meeting in person.
“So on Wednesday we went to council chambers to test the hybrid setup and all the technology works perfectly,” said Vasecka. “So starting this Monday the 14th at 6:00 p.m. we will be doing a hybrid meeting, so you can come in person or you can still participate via ZOOM if you are uncomfortable coming in person.”
Vasecka said she was disappointed to see public participation drop to near zero once COVID drove the city council meetings onto ZOOM.
“When I first got on council back in 2020, we had so many people show up to all the meetings because they had concerns about what was on the agenda or just other community concerns that they wanted to share with council members face to face,” she said. “Then when COVID hit and we went on ZOOM, it went from probably having 30 people in the audience that having one or two in the audience. So citizen participation is going to really ramp up I imagine and I'm really excited about it.”
For those who have never attended a city council meeting, Vasecka provided details on protocol for public comment.
“At the beginning of council meetings there is general public comment for things that are not listed on the agenda,” she said. “So if you had a concern about something that's happening in your neighborhood, but there's nothing official on the agenda about it that night, then that's when you come at the beginning for general public comment and you can talk about anything you want for three minutes. Then if you do have something that you want to talk about that's on the agenda that night, then you wait until that that part of the agenda, when part of the meeting is coming up and then that's when you can make your comment on that subject.”
Vasecka then pointed out that the rules of decorum during the city council meetings have been changed.
“It'll be difficult with the new council rules,” she said. “You are not supposed to use loud, threatening, abusive, indecent or inappropriate behavior. So, if you disagree with something I would recommend you have a steady voice. Don't yell. Just state your point very factually and as politely as you can.”
Here is section 18 of the Missoula City Council containing the rules of debate.
‘Rule 18. Conduct of Debate A.
No Council member shall debate any topic until recognized by the Presiding Officer. Council Members may speak more than once on a topic. All remarks must be germane to the subject being discussed and shall be as concise as possible. Unduly lengthy or repetitious remarks are out of order.
- City Council members and the Mayor shall speak to the specific issue being discussed and shall refrain from making any negative personal comments, personal criticisms or personal attacks on other Council members, the Mayor, city officials, staff members, or the public during City Council debate, discussion, or comment.’
The Missoula City Council Chambers are located at 140 West Pine.