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    Are there too many council meetings?
    • June 13, 2024

    Is the primary duty of a legislative body whose members represent farflung constituencies to gather together in some central location for (yet another) meeting — or is it to serve the citizenry in the field?

    This is a simple question that it would seem governmental bureaucracies don’t ask themselves often enough.

    But some members of the Los Angeles City Council are calling the question, as it were, about whether their schedule of meeting three days a week en masse in City Hall really serves Angelenos best, and it’s an issue worth discussing.

    It’s a big city, and while Downtown may be at its heart, L.A. is so sprawling, from the far West Valley to San Pedro, from Pacific Palisades to Pico Union, that the commute alone takes up a big chunk of council members’ time.

    Once there, they’re pretty much stuck for the day. Of course citizens can and do make the trek to Spring Street themselves, where they are (more or less) welcome to, as the First Amendment entitles us, “petition the Government for a redress of grievances” during public comment.

    We would just note what is perhaps impolitic to say: Many such speakers are from the seemingly professionally aggrieved, people with too much time on their hands, while the rest of us have to work, raising the same issues every meeting. Plus, the merely eccentric, not that they don’t have the right to speak as well.

    As David Zahniser reports in the Los Angeles Times, Councilmembers Katy Yaroslavsky and Tim McOsker last week raised the idea of asking “voters for permission to reduce the number of required weekly council meetings from three to one.”

    There’s the rub, or perhaps the purely democratic solution: The move would require a change in the City Charter, and thus citizen approval.

    Yaroslavsky says she’s “restless and frustrated” from the myriad presentations of ceremonial scrolls and plaques during the thrice-weekly meetings, and, yes, from public comment: “A lot of it is the same 15 people screaming racist, misogynistic, antisemitic epithets.”

    There’s resistance from some to putting the issue on the Nov. 5 ballot. Certainly there are other priorities. But the Board of Supervisors runs the county with one weekly meeting. The council could run the city that way, too.


    ​ Orange County Register